Christine Michael needs a nap.
If he can find the time.
The Green Bay Packers’ newest running back was claimed on waivers on Wednesday. He took a redeye out of Seattle at about midnight, had a layover in Chicago and landed in Green Bay at around 9:45 a.m. An hour later, he was on the practice field for Thursday’s padded practice.
“It was definitely a long day,” he said at his locker on Thursday afternoon.
The next few days will be long, too, as Michael attempts to absorb as much of the playbook as he can to make an impact – potentially on Sunday night at Washington – for a Packers offense that was thrown for a loss when Eddie Lacy went on injured reserve following the Week 6 loss to Dallas.
In theory, Michael could give the lift that Knile Davis failed to provide in a failed October trade.
Michael was the leading rusher for the NFC West-leading Seahawks. However, he was demoted behind rookie C.J. Prosise for Sunday night’s game at New England. With last year’s starter, Thomas Rawls, back from a broken ankle and another rookie, Alex Collins, waiting in the wings, Michael suddenly was the odd man out in a crowded running backs room.
“It was definitely a surprise, man,” Michael said. “I’m a guy that just adjusts. I understand the business part of it. I understand the Seahawks. They have just a great team over there, great coaches. I’m sure those guys have a great plan. You have to adjust, you know what I mean? I’m blessed that Green Bay picked me up. I’m ready to roll to see where it takes me.”
Where it’s going to take him is extra meeting time in Ben Sirmans’ running backs room. Sirmans, the team’s first-year running backs coach, is getting used to leading crash courses. The Packers claimed Jhurell Pressley following final cuts. There was the failed trade for Davis. And now it’s Michael.
“Good thing I have a background as a teacher because definitely been utilizing those skills a lot of late,” Sirmans said.
At practice, Michael went through individual drills and then operated with the scout team. Watching Sirmans operate the Redskins’ offense provided Sirmans a crash course of his own, because he really didn’t know much about Michael’s game.
What did Sirmans see?
“He’s really quick,” he said. “Got a lot of good sudden movement. Seems to have good vision. I love the way he runs with a natural body lean, which gives him a better chance to get in and out of seams and break tackles. And you saw it in this one play we had in our half-line drill. He was trying to get his way through there, got hit and was so low, put his hand back on the ground and maintained his balance. I mean, we watched it in there today and all the other backs were, ‘Man, that’s pretty good balance right there.’ He’s got a pretty good skill-set.”
The Packers need that skill-set. ASAP. No team has run the ball less (on a percentage basis) than the Packers over the last four games. With a golden opportunity in front of him, Michael shrugged off any jet lag.
“You love the game so much, the flight was the least of my worries,” he said. “I was just ready to get up here as soon as possible. Grab my playbook, get going, treat my body up well, meet the guys. Just call this place home. Call this place home and just run with it.”
Michael hasn’t run with his opportunities in the past. Seattle took him in the second round in 2013, one spot after the Packers took Lacy. He was supposed to be the successor to Marshawn Lynch. Didn’t happen. He was traded to Dallas, where he was supposed to be part of the answer for replacing DeMarco Murray. Didn’t happen. Even this year, being the team’s leading rusher wasn’t enough.
Now, it’s a fresh start with a perennial contender. He’s eager to run with the opportunity.
“I’ve watched football all my life,” Michael said. “I’ve kept up with Aaron Rodgers, kept up with the Green Bay Packers. This is a great organization, great team. I can tell already walking in the door it’s a championship mindset. Guys take things serious. I’m happy to be a part of it. Definitely a big-time place.”
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.