Christine Michael calm and comfortable in second NFL season

Posted Jul 25, 2014

Second-year running back Christine Michael has taken steps to strengthen areas of his game that kept him from seeing the field a season ago.

Adjusting to life in the NFL was harder than expected for running back Christine Michael.

The Seahawks selected the former Texas A&M standout with their first pick in the 2013 NFL Draft (No. 62 overall), but Michael would experience growing pains during his transition from college to the pros. He was inactive for five games his rookie year, didn't play in six others, and was a healthy scratch from the team's active roster during their postseason run through Super Bowl XLVIII.

"Just the speed of things, the plays - it's different from the collegiate level," Michael said Friday at the conclusion of the Seahawks' first training camp practice at Renton's Virginia Mason Athletic Center. "They expect you to get it and get it right away here. They drafted you for a reason and you've got to come here and prove yourself.

"What you did in college doesn't matter," Michael added. "When you come on this level everybody's good and you've just got to get better, find a way to stick out more than the next person."

Michael had trouble sticking out more than the "next person" a season ago. Despite flashing clever shiftiness and breakaway speed in the 2013 preseason, the coaching staff cited flaws in pass protection and an inability to completely grasp the offense as reasons for Michael's reduced role his rookie year. Of course, it doesn't help when the "next person" you're trying to beat out are running backs Marshawn Lynch and Robert Turbin, who showed a consistency on the football field that Michael fell short of matching his first year.

"It was a new experience for me, being a rookie coming in, being behind such a great group of guys like Robert Turbin, Marshawn Lynch, Michael Robinson - who was the running back leader," said Michael. "I'm just trying to have fun with it, help contribute like I mentioned before, and take better notes and learn as much as I can to get better."

The steps Michael has taken to improve his game this offseason seem to be working. In addition to taking better notes, Michael says he's been watching more film and asking more questions, striving to become "an overall pro."

Pete Carroll has taken notice of Michael's increased efforts. The Seahawks head coach believes Michael has matured from year one to year two, seeing a much different player than the one who was "bright-eyed as a young pup" his first season in the League.

"He's just so much more consistent with his assignments, responsibilities, his readiness is just there," Carroll said. "He seems calm and poised about taking advantage of this opportunity and he looks ready to go. He's a very talented kid. We're really excited about him. He's our biggest running back back there and he's probably the fastest as well.

"He just seems to have embraced this step and this level. He gets it now. You can just tell. He's much more comfortable."

With Lynch absent from the first day of camp, Carroll expects Michael and Turbin to compete for an inflated workload to start the new year.

"I'm expecting both guys to contribute," said Carroll. "Christine has done everything we've asked him and we're really proud of the progress that he's made."

Part of Michael's progress has come in that area that kept him from seeing the field a year ago. He knows pass protection is an aspect of his game that needs improvement. The uptick in reps which Michael received during minicamp and OTAs helped boost his confidence level on the field. That, coupled with a new dedication to film study, is beginning to pay dividends for the former Aggie.

"I know who I'm blocking now," Michael said. "I know what to block, I know the different schemes - the different defensive schemes.

"Now I'm just ready to go out there and have fun with it, show it, and prove it."