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Packers re-sign Christine Michael, Solidify Depth at Running Back

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Packers re-sign Christine Michael, Solidify Depth at Running Back

The Packers will maintain some stability in their offensive backfield in 2017.

In what was a double-dose of free agent visits on Wednesday from both offensive tackle Byron Bell and running back Christine Michael, ESPN's Field Yates reported that Michael has re-signed with the Packers.

Michael spent his career going back and forth between the Seahawks and Cowboys, albeit only serving in Dallas for a brief part of the 2015 season before being booted aside for Michael's former Seattle teammate, Robert Turbin. After crash-landing in Seattle for the second time in less than a year, Michael was released from the team in the early stages of the 2016 season. Even after signing a one-year contract with the Seahawks in March of that year. 

Once Thomas Rawls and C.J. Prosise gave the Seahawks much more stability than they needed Michael for at running back, he was cast off in mid-November. A day later, he landed in Green Bay.

A week after turning 26 years old, Michael gave the Packers a bit of juice in their running game despite not contributing immediately. He carried the ball a single time for four yards in his Packers debut against the Eagles on Monday Night Football. He followed up with nine carries for 19 yards the following week against the Texans. So far, it was beginning to look like the Packers were getting a repeat of Knile Davis, who held a brief stint with the team a month earlier.

Over his next two games, however, Michael averaged 7.4 yards per carry, including 10 carries for 36 yards against the team that once housed him in Seattle.

Michael never jumped off the charts in Green Bay, but he did provide the Packers with a burst of energy out of their backfield behind Ty Montgomery, who as of right now, seems to remain as the team's starting running back barring any possible changes in the coming months. 

Montgomery, Michael and Don Jackson are the only running backs currently on the Packers roster since losing Eddie Lacy to - you guessed it, the Seahawks. 

It's also unknown how dependent on the running game the Packers will be in 2017, given the fact that they ran the ball just 366 times last season - the fourth-fewest in the NFL. That's likely a consequential result of losing Lacy before the halfway mark of the season and having to rely heavily on the wings of the passing game. With Michael returning, this can also thankfully put to bed any remnants of desire for Adrian Peterson joining Green Bay's backfield anytime soon.


Zachary Jacobson is a staff writer/reporter for Cheesehead TV. He's the voice of The Leap on iTunes and can be heard on The Scoop KLGR 1490 AM every Saturday morning. He's also a contributor on the Pack-A-Day Podcast. He can be found on Twitter via @ZachAJacobson or contacted through email at [email protected].

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (36) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Dzehren's picture

Depth- physical runner- camp body- low cap #. Hard runner with a chip on his shoulder. Great low risk signing. TT KMART signing!!

Dzehren's picture

Interesting research by the author-

GB ran the ball 366 times last season - the fourth-fewest in the NFL

RB might be a higher priority than we think. Kiper mocking Delkin Cook FSU & McShay Christian McCaffrey from Stanford in RD1

OrganLeroy's picture

If you reread the article, they had the 4th fewest carries in the league BECAUSE they lost Lacy. RB IS NOT a higher priority than we think and PLEASE, Kiper & McShay and all those mocksters don't have a clue. Those mocks are meant to generate interest period. Bucky Brooks in his Mocks keeps picking McCaffery to the Packers because as he said" I like the idea of a weapon like McCaffery teaming up with Aaron Rodgers. Not because it's a pick of need. We need to improve the defensive pass rush(OLB) & CB play. The Packers WILL NOT DRAFT A RB,WR or TE in the 1st round!

Rossonero's picture

Exactly. Todd Mcshay mocked DT Andrew Billings to the Packers last year. BillIngs wound up being a 4th rounder. Mcshay wasn't even in the right stratosphere.

UmpireMark's picture

When was the last time either of those two prognosticators were ever right on a Packer draft pick?

Just sayin' ......

Ryan Graham's picture

It's not as high a priority as people realize, particularly with this signing. Give him a chance to spend an entire offseason in the system and I trust him to be a dependable back up and maybe even a kick returner.

MM runs a West coast offense, they are never going to run and pass 50-50 it's just not the scheme, especially with Aaron Rodgers under center. There are really only 4 or 5 teams that are over or even to that mark and the rest are below. The Packers are naturally gonna fall more toward the 8th-10th fewest rushing attempts.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

nah, that is not altogether true about GB naturally falling towards 25th to 23rd in rushing attempts. Since 2010, we've ranked 20, 26, 16, 12, 14, 12, and 29th last year. There is a direct correlation between having a pretty good RB in Lacy and running a good bit: with Lacy, we've been 12th, 14th, and 12th. Brandon Jackson was so bad in 2010 that John Kuhn got 84 carries. We were 15th/14th in rushes in 2009 and 2008 with Ryan Grant being a 1283/1203 yard rusher. We dropped down to 24th when Ahman Green got hurt and our primary RB was Samkon Gado for a number of games.

I hate rankings. GB has tied or run more than their opponents in 6 of those 7 years. that's probably a function of winning 10-12 games per year, such that opposing teams run less when playing us and we grind the clock at the end a bit. We averaged rushing 421 carries from 2010 to 2016 (excluding 2016, 2010 to 2015 it is 430 carries per year). Per football reference:

2010 421/395 - GB 20th
2011 395/383 - GB 26th
2012 433/418 - GB 16th
2013 459/432 - GB 12th
2014 435/449 - GB 14th
2015 436/420 - GB 12th
2016 374/376 - GB 29th (yeah, calling that a virtual tie)

porupack's picture

Nice work TGR. Only minor add to your conclusion is the relatively low priority that TT places on even getting a good RB. Clearly he put emphasis on the year acquiring Lacy and Franklin...and unfortunate to his plan, Franklin's injury derailed what should have been a sure-fire solution with the 2-pack rookies. I'm not disputing the priority to focus on other positions, just saying that that is part of the equation regarding the overall commitment to running the ball...and, as you say...impacting the annual attempts.

Lphill's picture

Resigned FB Joe Kerridge too , check out his highlight film from Michigan , best blocking you will ever see .

Seth Borden's picture

I like this signing, for what I assume was modest coin, a lot. Since he first got into the league, his flat out speed has been obvious. He just needs that proverbial light bulb to go off. If he can pick up better pass pro, and stop dancing East/West behind the line so much, he will be a solid back in this offense.

Very comfortable going into 2017 with Ty, C-Mike, Don Jackson and a draft pick duking it out for carries. Mind you, Ripkowski started showing a little Kuhn out of the shotgun late last year too.

No knock at TJ Lang -- but a mere NFL starting caliber Guard now makes this a significantly improved O over 2016's, in my opinion.

Michael Grunewald's picture

Agreed. Given my typical high unfavorable impressions of Teddie's personnel decisions, this resign and Lang's release were bot worthy of praise. We can replace Lang, and to retain a serviceable, low cost option in the backfield is a huge plus.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

I don't see excessive dancing as Michael's problem at all. Too often he runs right into the backs of his blockers. He doesn't wait for the hole to open. The guy has no vision. The light bulb might flip on for him as to learning the play book and going the right way, but if he still has no vision, he probably never will.

The TKstinator's picture

I like the way he runs.

Since '61's picture

Ok signing for campbody/depth. Still hope the Packers draft an RB. Thanks, Since '61

The TKstinator's picture

How early and for what capacity?

Rossonero's picture

I'd say no earlier than the 3rd round. There are starter worthy RBs in the 4th and even 5th rounds. Shoot, the Bears took Jordan Howard in the 5th round last year and that draft class wasn't nearly as deep at RB as this one.

Tundraboy's picture

Me too. Mid round ok.

Rossonero's picture

C-Mike gave us a spark vs. Seattle and ran hard. Anyone remember him taking it to the house vs. the Bears on a 42 yard run? I like this signing. Gives him more time to learn the play book too.

Monty still has sickle cell that can act up at random times. Remember the Atlanta game? He was a scratch right before kick off. We must have depth.

zoellner25's picture

We're gonna win the SB now!!!!!!!

4thand1's picture

This is not a running team.

Nick Perry's picture

In 2013 and 2014 the Packers ran the ball a shade over 44% each season, that's a pretty balanced run to pass ratio. 2015 Lacy was fat and 2016 the Packers just weren't well prepared at the position, especially knowing he was rather large in TC. He still ran for an excellent average but they had nothing behind him.

Nick Perry's picture

It's a sound smart signing. He knows the Offense somewhat and now can be there for OTA's, and TC from the get go which will only benefit him and the Packers. I think the kid comes into camp prepared, he's got to know he has to do more than just run hard, especially in GB.

pooch's picture

Now he only needs to learn how to read his blocks and pass block...he is fast though woo hoo

MarkinMadison's picture

Yeah, I'm just not a fan. I'm more inclined to think that if the light bulb didn't go on with the Seahawks after two stints that the guy just isn't going to get it. I agree that he brings a physical burst to the running game, but you could also say that he doesn't have the patience to let a hole develop. He is the anti-Monty. I hope he's cheap, and I hope it is a one year deal. I'm not complaining if he is the third back on the depth chart. I just don't have high hopes that he'll ever be good for more than a few pops here and there.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

This ^^^^

Signing him is okay if there is little to no guaranteed money and close to vet min.

porupack's picture

Shawks didn't have an Oline either. Half their rushing was the QB running for his life, not counting him zig-zagging sideline to sideline.

I like the signing; low risk, good value for a 2nd-3rd back, with some potential upside.
It fills the hole with low-mileage vet with some GB experience, and decreases the RB draft priority to about 4th rounder imo. Allows GB more time to develop a draft pick, before having to depend on him in the rotation.

marpag1's picture

It's OK if they signed him for something between a Big Mac and a value meal. More than that and I don't like it.

croatpackfan's picture

I have one bold prediction: Packers will pick Joe Mixon, all around RB (6-foot-1, 226-pounds) from Oklahoma with their 3rd round pick!

Beat that!

Lphill's picture

I think the most important thing to the Packers is having backs that can block and catch passes to support the passing game, I think we have that now , I would not waste an early pick on a running back ,plus we improved at tight end and their blocking ability as well , we should be much improved in 3 rd and short situations.

Allan Murphy's picture

Hope he was cheep no help here ...

pooch's picture

I guess no one else wanted Michaels.He is?cheap that's why we have him

williamkittrell's picture

Right thinking. Thanks a lot.

sheppercheeser's picture

He has physical skills. Get the guy a mentor or coach that can work on his "reading" skills and the all-too-often play changes inherent with AR. Maybe he's just a diamond in the rough. They say you can't teach speed.

BigCheese2's picture

Christine Michael gave the Pack a jolt when he came into the Giants playoff game. Closed out plenty of games running against 8-9 men boxes-- getting first downs while he was at it. He ran for brutal yards and brought energy back to that struggling offense during that Giant game.... Some say that Randall's Hail Mary catch jolted the offense, I disagree-- he has energy and a chip on his shoulder and runs like it. Let this kid (yes, kid... he is YOUNG) get a chance to learn the playbook over an entire offseason. This guy is a three-down NFL back, has big play potential, can catch but just needs to take time learning the playbook and working on pass blocking (which he can work with Monty, cause he needs it too). He was also signed for significantly less than we would have ended up paying for some of these free agent running backs that are not worth it.
All I am saying is: cheap price, big play ability, time to adjust, thug-like chip on his shoulder. There is nothing to lose from this signing.

sheppercheeser's picture

I totally agree. In school, if you needed additional help with "assignments", you could hook up with a tutor. The Packers should follow suit- if CM needs extra help, for gosh sakes, GET him some! The upside is limitless!

JacFrost's picture

Guy doesn't follow blockers, lacks speed, mis blocking assignments. What's not to like?

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