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RENTON, Wash. (AP) — The Seattle Seahawks' search for a primary running back until Marshawn Lynch returns took an unexpected twist Wednesday.
After being traded away to Dallas at the end of training camp and seemingly falling out of favor in Seattle, Christine Michael was welcomed back by the Seahawks, who signed the former second-round pick after he was released from Washington's practice squad Tuesday.
It was an unexpected move but emphasized the situation the Seahawks find themselves in. With Lynch still sidelined after abdominal surgery last month and Thomas Rawls lost for the season to a broken ankle, Seattle was simply out of options.
So they are turning to the combination of Michael, Bryce Brown and potentially fullback Derrick Coleman to fill the spot for at least this week against Cleveland and presumably until Lynch returns.
"The familiarity and the background that he (Michael) has gives him a chance to help us," coach Pete Carroll said. "We always saw him as an explosive player so we'll see how that works out."
The running back position will be unsettled at least until Lynch gets back. The only certainty in the backfield is veteran Fred Jackson, but at age 34 and with a handful of lingering injuries, he has not appeared capable of handling 20 attempts per game. Carroll said the intent is to keep Jackson as the third-down back as he's been for most of the year.
Brown, Michael and Coleman will all get reps in practice this week. Offensive line coach Tom Cable said his preference is that two of the three become the primary ball carries on Sunday against the Browns.
"Getting them all prepared I think is the right way and then when we get to Sunday we'll figure it out," Cable said.
Even with what Russell Wilson has shown in recent weeks as a passer, the Seahawks will always try to be a team that is built off the run game.
Seattle has run for at least 100 yards as a team in 24 straight games. Even with the performances Wilson has had during the past four games, Seattle's still been leaning on the run. Seattle had 255 yards rushing in Week 11 vs. San Francisco; 100 yards in Week 12 vs. Pittsburgh; 173 yards in Week 13 at Minnesota; and 123 yards last Sunday at Baltimore.
And just because Seattle lacks an established running option right now, don't expect Wilson to carry it more often. If anything, with what he's shown of late, Seattle may lean more on the pass game if the run game isn't working.
"The effectiveness of the run game is a big deal," Carroll said. "I talk about it to you guys all the time. It's a big deal to fitting things together and causing the defense to have to deal with us in a certain manner. That's why we're so committed because we have a real sense for what that means."
The decision to bring Brown back Tuesday — after the team released DuJuan Harris — was an expected response. Brown has spent two previous stints with Seattle earlier this season, giving him some familiarity with the offense. Brown was inactive for both games while he was previously on Seattle's active roster.
"I honestly didn't think I would be back here this year," Brown said.
Michael said "humbling" is a word he's used often to describe this season. After getting beat out by Rawls for Seattle's backup spot in training camp, Michael was rarely used in Dallas. He was active for five games and had just 51 yards on 15 carries. After being released by the Cowboys in late November, Michael latched on with the Washington practice squad.
Michael was drafted by Seattle in 2013 with the idea that he could eventually be Lynch's replacement but never matched the potential he flashed at Texas A&M. Michael had 52 carries for 254 yards in his two seasons with Seattle.
"I just have to evaluate myself. I just have to do things right and come here with a good mindset, come here focused like these other guys are and come in here and work," Michael said.
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