To the victors go the spoils.
Unless it’s the NFL’s waiver system.
The Green Bay Packers, scuffling along at 4-5, were awarded running back Christine Michael on waivers on Wednesday. To make room, they placed rookie running back Don Jackson on injured reserve.
In the NFL’s waiver system, the worst teams get first dibs on players who’ve been cut loose. Michael was released on Tuesday by Seattle, which is getting starter Thomas Rawls back from injury and has been getting production from rookie C.J. Prosise.
The Packers have been starved for a running game since Eddie Lacy went on injured reserve following the Week 6 game against Dallas, with the October trade for Knile Davis providing no relief. Of players on the active roster, the leading rushers are a quarterback (Aaron Rodgers, 226 yards) and receiver (Ty Montgomery, 128 yards). James Starks returned last week after missing four games with knee surgery. He looked fresh while rushing seven times for 33 yards and scoring a touchdown on a 13-yard screen. A strong running game is a vital tool, as the Titans showed last week with their mastery of the passing game.
“I always want to run the ball more, but I also want to throw it 55 times a game, too,” Packers coach McCarthy said before the transaction was made on Wednesday. “That’s the way games are. You have to run the ball football. Everything starts with running the football. You can’t extend your offensive line and your pass-protection unit the way we have. Running the football is very important for a number of different reasons.”
The Seahawks’ decision on Michael came as a surprise based purely on production. He was the team’s leading rusher with 469 yards (4.0 average) and six touchdowns. The Packers’ only rushing touchdowns have been delivered by Rodgers. Michael added 20 catches for just 96 yards (4.8 average) and another touchdown. The loaded state of their depth chart, however, made him the odd man out.
A second-round pick out of Texas A&M in 2013, Michael has started nine of 31 games in two tours with Seattle sandwiching a stint in Dallas. He’s rushed for 966 yards (4.3 average) and caught 24 passes for 124 yards (5.2 average). During his senior season at A&M, he was suspended twice and ejected once. That ruined a career in which he rushed for 2,791 yards and 34 touchdowns. He hasn't had any issues in the NFL, though.
Michael had a killer fumble in a Week 2 loss at Los Angeles but rushed for 106 yards and two touchdowns against San Francisco in Week 3. However, he had been phased out of the offense. In Week 8 at New Orleans he had a critical false-start penalty on second-and-goal that doomed a drive in a five-point loss. In Week 9, he rushed five times for 1 yard against Buffalo's porous run defense. In Week 10 against New England on Sunday night, he was demoted in favor of Prosise.
The Seahawks, who are cruising toward the playoffs, decided to move on. The Packers, in danger of falling out of the playoffs, hope Michael can come to the rescue. Lacy, John Crockett and Jackson are on injured reserve, Starks missed four games with a knee injury and Davis lasted only two games.
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PackerReport.