SEATTLE — Christine Michael's motto consists of three things that have been highly apparent in his on-the-field production through the Seahawks' first three preseason games of 2016: "be disciplined, be consistent, and be focused throughout the day."
"That's just what I go on, that's what I'm living on right now," Michael said Thursday night at CenturyLink Field after running for 58 yards on seven carries in a 27-17 win over the Dallas Cowboys. "I'm trying to help contribute, trying to do my job, what they ask of me, and just be a part of this team."
Michael has been Seattle's most consistent runner through three exhibition games. He overcame a slow start against the Cowboys by breaking free for gains of 10, 17, and 20 yards in the second half, bringing his 2016 preseason rushing total to 157 yards on 24 touches, good for an average of 6.5 yards per carry. Michael said he's looking to make the most of a second-chance with the team that used a second-round pick on him in the 2013 draft but then traded him to Dallas last year, a season that saw Michael sign with Washington's practice squad following his release from the Cowboys, and ultimately - after the Redskins cut ties - land back in Seattle to finish the season.
"It's just a blessing to even be back here," said Michael. "Most guys, you get rid of them and they go all over the NFL, but they gave me the opportunity to come back. I'm just trying to make the best of it. Trying not to let these guys down, and me, myself, my family. I'm just trying to play, do what I've been doing my whole life."
Head coach Pete Carroll called Michael's turnaround "a really dramatic one."
"He had to go somewhere else, he had to get cut, he had to get released from the practice squad," Carroll said. "We were fortunate to get him back, and he comes back with all of the lessons at hand that you could learn, and he learned them. He's turned it around, and it's a beautiful turnaround for him and for us.
"I'm thrilled for the kid. He's playing so confidently right now. He's very poised about the game, too, to see him stay in the game for a while, and carry the ball and just have to play football. He was very poised, he conserved his energy very beautifully. It looks like he's ready to go."
Michael said his turnaround this preseason has been a result of spending more time preparing during the week, watching film and learning from veterans like Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse, and retired Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch - who recently gave Michael a call from Down Under - about good practice habits, an approach that makes gameday come "easy."
"You practice hard, practice good habits, the game is easy," Michael said. "That's just what I'm doing."
With Rawls slated to be ready for the regular season opener, coach Carroll has talked about the possibility of a one-two punch in the run game with Rawls and Michael leading the way. To Michael, the idea "sounds great."
"The way these two guys are coming downhill, they're different in their style somewhat but some of it is similar in that they burst and really hit it," said Carroll. "They're running with a lot of confidence. You're going to see in a couple of weeks that [Rawls is] really raring to go. I thought that Christine looked great tonight. I thought he looked like a beautiful runner out there, making really decisive cuts and stuff to get into the secondary. There's no reason to think otherwise, he's going to be like that for us."
Carroll emphasized the Seahawks are "still learning" about Michael's maturity, and even though he's shown positive signs through the first three preseason games, they'll look to see him perform consistently over "the long haul."
"The first time we talked when he came back to us, we talked to him in John [Schneider's] office," Carroll said. "Greeting him back in and all that, and he was very humbled by what had happened. He had the signs of a guy who wanted to see if he could turn this thing around, and that's where our conversation started, and we've only thought of that and spoken to him in that manner, and expected him to make this turn in hopes that he would, and he's done a great job."
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Look through some photos of Seahawks vs Cowboys during Preseason Week 3 at CenturyLink Field.