Coach Jason Garrett repeated again Monday that the Cowboys like running backs Joseph Randle, Darren McFadden and Lance Dunbar. But the addition of Christine Michael gives the Cowboys something the other three don’t have.
Michael, who stands 5 foot 10 and weighs 221 pounds, is a physical runner the Cowboys can use in short-yardage and goal-line situations and to wear down defenses in the second half.
The Cowboys converted 70.4 percent of their third-and-one and fourth-and-one rushing attempts last season with DeMarco Murray, who left for Philadelphia in the offseason.
“I think he’s a talented guy,” Garrett said of Michael. “He’s a big guy. He’s physical. He’s quick. He’s explosive, can be a downhill runner. He’s got a good change of direction. So all those things are the things you see on tape of him coming out of school and also when he’s had opportunities in Seattle. We’ll try to get him up to snuff as quickly as we can and put him out on the practice field and begin our evaluation.”
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The Cowboys gave up a conditional seventh-round pick to acquire Michael from the Seattle Seahawks. They surrender the choice if Michael makes the 46-player, game-day roster three times.
The Cowboys have four running backs and a fullback on their 53-player roster. They last carried four backs in 2013 and used all four on game day only six times.
Michael does not play special teams. He played 70 plays on offense for the Seahawks in the preseason and none on special teams.
“There’s opportunity every day in practice,” Garrett said. “We’re going to evaluate guys in practice, and if they show that they’re worthy of being part of our roster on Sundays, we’ll give them a chance to do that. If they’re worthy of getting some opportunities to carry the football, we’ll give them a chance to do that, as well.”
The Seahawks made Michael a second-round pick in 2013 after he rushed for 2,791 yards and 34 touchdowns in four seasons at Texas A&M. In 14 games over two seasons, Michael had only 52 carries for 254 yards.
The Seahawks moved on from Michael after signing Arlington Lamar’s Fred Jackson as a free agent last week.
But Michael is only 24 and has shown flashes.
“He’s a guy that was regarded fairly highly coming out of school and hasn’t had a ton of success in Seattle the first couple of years, but he has a lot of traits,” Garrett said. “He’s a young player who we think has some ability to run the football in this league. We just wanted to make our team better by adding a guy like that and getting him into our structure and trying to teach him how we want to play and see if he can help our team. You try to do that at the running back position, but you really try to do it throughout your team, and he was one of the guys that we’re drawn to and thought could help us.”