CARSON, Calif.—When C.J. Prosise powered into the end zone for a 1-yard touchdown run, the celebration that ensued was a bit more enthusiastic than normal for a preseason game.
It wasn't that Prosise himself went crazy after scoring, but rather that his teammates, many of whom ran over from the sideline, made a big deal out of the fourth-year running back's touchdown, Seattle's first in an eventual 23-15 win.
Preseason touchdowns are usually forgotten by the time the regular season rolls around, but this moment, which capped an impressive series for Prosise, was a big deal because his teammates know all he has gone through over the past four years. After showing so much promise as a rookie in 2016, Prosise saw that year cut short by a fractured scapula. The next year, an ankle injury landed him on injured reserve, and in 2018 it was an abdomen injury, one that would require surgery, that cut his season short.
In total, injuries have limited Prosise to just 16 games played in three seasons, but on Saturday he came out of the game feeling "perfectly" healthy as he tries to prove to his team that he can contribute in 2019.
"It's my first game I've played almost in a year, so it's definitely a return," Prosise said. "I'm just excited to be back out there. I love playing this game, and having it taken away the last couple of years has been tough on me. Going out there, all the hard work coming to fruition tonight, it really just makes me happy. I'm excited for the season.
"I just felt great getting back out there, competing with my teammates. I've been battling through some stuff, and I'm just excited that I got the chance to get back out there, compete and show that I can still compete."
Said quarterback Russell Wilson, "He's a great running back. He can catch anything, he can run the ball really well. You saw him step in the hole, step back out, make some key runs and key plays. Him scoring that touchdown was big for him, he was really excited about that. Obviously we were all excited for him. He's had a tough battle trying to get back, and he's a guy who can really play a lot of great football. So it was good to see 22 make some plays."
And yes, that touchdown run, even in a preseason game, meant a lot to Prosise considering it was his first time finding the end zone since his rookie season.
"It means a lot to me," he said. "Not seeing the end zone for three years, I was just wanting to get in there, so I was going to fight my way into the end zone any way I can. I just really felt comfortable out there tonight and I'm excited."
One game won't secure a roster spot for Prosise—Seattle's overall running back depth was on full display Saturday, with J.D. McKissic and Travis Homer also showing sparks in the second half after Chris Carson, Rashaad Penny and Prosise handled most of the first-half action—but Saturday's game was an encouraging sign. He showed the ability to make defenders miss, as well as the ability to fight for extra yards, and finished with 32 yards on five carries, as well as a 15-yard reception.
"It was a really good night for C.J. It's been such a struggle for him to just get out there," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "He had a really good week in practice, he looked like that in practice. I don't think anybody was surprised, we're just happy for him. We'll come back next week and he'll go at it again, he needs to put another week under his belt and just show what he can do. It just makes that running back position more solid and competitive, and we couldn't ask for more."
Carroll was then asked if a game like this was an example of why the Seahawks have held onto Prosise despite the injuries, and replied, "I don't give up on guys very quickly. Knowing what his situation has been and the circumstances, he has stayed with it every step of the way. If there comes a point where a guy just can't stay healthy, then he won't be able to play, but he's bouncing back, and I'm going to keep my fingers crossed that he's able to do that. He's such a versatile player and he adds so much. We'll see what happens."
Game action photos from the Seahawks' third preseason game of 2019 against the Chargers in Los Angeles.