He was fast. Blazing fast, especially in the open field, with an element of power in the way he ran at Texas A&M.
And then it never showed during the Seahawks' Super Bowl run. Michael was rarely more than a spectator on Sundays as he struggled making the transition from the college game to the pros.
“He's got great speed and quickness, but he's had to learn to be patient and the discipline it takes to play in this offense and in this league. Not doing things almost right, doing things right,” Seattle running backs coach Sherman Smith said. “I think that's the thing he's learning now. Patience and discipline and doing stuff the right way.”
With Marshawn Lynch holding out from Seahawks training camp, the opportunity is there for Michael and third-year back Robert Turbin to prove they can be more than capable backups to one of the top runners in football.
The duo was already going to receive the bulk of the workload during the preseason, trying to keep Lynch rested and ready for the start of the regular season.
But with Lynch unhappy about his contract and absent from camp, Turbin and Michael are now taking on even more of the load.
“I think it's a benefit for the team too to see these guys doing it and get more confidence in them knowing that if Marshawn were hurt they could go in and play,” Smith said. “I think it helps the reps and helps the team's confidence also.”
Seattle has a pretty good idea what Turbin can provide. He's shown to be a capable spot backup for Lynch the past two seasons when given a chance.
Turbin has size similar to Lynch, but the question would be his ability to carry the ball every down. Only once in his career has Turbin had more than 11 carries in a game.
Turbin is healthier now than at almost any other point last season. He played through a bothersome knee that required minor surgery in the offseason.
“For one, I'm healthy this year. So that's definitely a plus. I just think understanding the game and defense and scheme and understanding what we're trying to do as an offense and our philosophy and what we want to do,” Turbin said.
“It's definitely helped watching other backs and watching Marshawn and studying film and how other teams run similar offense that we do and getting better from that.”
Michael is the unknown, which only percolates the interest from Seattle's fans. Sports talk radio spent much of the offseason debating what Michael could bring to Seattle's offense after he was active for only four games last season and got a total of 18 carries.
Since the Super Bowl, Michael has shown he's taking the game more serious than in his rookie season. Simple things such as taking proper notes and watching the right amount of film have become part of his routine.
Head coach Pete Carroll has raved about Michael's transformation since the first offseason workouts when he was getting the bulk of the reps while Lynch was absent from the voluntary sessions.
“It's different from the collegiate level. They expect you to get it and get it right away here. They drafted you for a reason and you've got to come in and prove yourself,” Michael said. “What you did in college doesn't matter when you come on this level, everybody is good. You've just got to get better. You have to stick out more than the next person.”
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