More questions about plan at running back

May, 15, 2013
5/15/13
11:00
AM ET
NFC West teams have been stockpiling running backs. They selected six of them in the NFL draft last month. The Arizona Cardinals also added Rashard Mendenhall in free agency.

Jacob from Gig Harbor, Wash., hit the NFC West mailbag with a question about the Seattle Seahawks' approach to the position under Pete Carroll. He wondered whether Christine Michael's arrival as a second-round draft choice signaled a shift to the multi-back approach Carroll used at USC.

There's no question Carroll is implementing much of his USC vision with the Seahawks. Stockpiling running backs is part of that vision. I just don't see a rookie affecting the rotation significantly right away unless he blows away expectations during training camp and the exhibition season. Lynch is arguably one of the five best backs in the NFL. Robert Turbin enters training camp ahead of Michael on the depth chart.

There is only one football to go around.

Carroll has said he wants no drop-off at the position when backups go into the game. He has also said the team needed another running back after releasing Leon Washington. Adding Michael seems more like a move made with the longer term in mind.

Lynch played 66 percent of the offensive snaps in 16 games last season. That was up about 10 percentage points from his total in the 15 games he played a season earlier. I could see that figure regressing some naturally and not necessarily as part of a planned shift. Turbin should be better prepared to help the team in his second NFL season. I would expect Lynch to continue playing more than half the offensive snaps if healthy. The plan for Michael would be to develop his pass-blocking skills and all-around game this season.

"First off, we ran the ball more than anybody in the NFL last year, so we want this position loaded up," Carroll said in explaining Michael's selection. "I think the chance to get another good, strong, tough guy like we did just adds to the theme of what we're trying to present as a team."

Of Michael specifically, Carroll said, "He has not done as much pass protection work as we'd like. When we looked at Robert last year, we felt the same way, but Robert came on really strong as a pass-blocker, so we hope to do the same thing with Christine."

One question I have is whether Seattle will become more of a three-receiver team with Percy Harvin joining the offense. That would make sense, in theory, because Harvin, Sidney Rice and Golden Tate figure to rank among the best candidates for the five spots available to receivers, running backs and tight ends on any given play.

Using three receivers at a time more frequently would lead to more one-back sets, putting a premium on the back's ability to hold up in pass protection.

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