Request number one: Shutup about injuries for a day.
People are afraid of getting hurt. I don’t mean about breaking their leg or an ankle — certainly I would be afraid of that if it was inevitable like if I was strapped to the bed in Misery — but people are constantly on guard with their feelings because that’s actually something that we can all relate to on a regular basis. They don’t want to get their hopes up, because they’ve been hurt like that before.
In sports, fans get hurt in that way so often that we tend to assume the worst and won’t even allow ourselves moments of imagination that involve certain players having healthy and productive seasons. I guarantee to you that when I tweet out this article, the headline alone will incite several replies — without ever having read the article itself — regarding C.J. Prosise’s injury history and why he’ll just disappoint me and everyone in the end.
This request will then fall on deaf ears for them, but I’ll repeat it anyway: Just shut the hell up about injuries for a day.
As a draft prospect, Prosise represented the quintessential Pete Carroll offensive weapon. In regards to being versatile, Prosise checked the box as a former safety-turned-receiver-turned-running back. Physically, he fit the bill as a 6’, 220 lb running back with 32+” arms, a 35.5” vertical, 10’1 broad, and 4.48 40-yard dash. Mentally and personality-wise, Prosise would fit in with the guys who study hard, work hard, and are extremely unlikely to wind up with a mugshot.
Most important of all, none of these traits would matter on the field if Prosise didn’t have the vision necessary to hit the holes he’s meant to and to improvise when necessary with his unique athletic gifts. Well, he’s got that too.
Being the 90th overall pick as a running back, especially as one with only one year of experience as a running back, is pretty high praise in 2016. That’s where the Seattle Seahawks selected Prosise out of Notre Dame, and Carroll certainly had plans to use him to open up the offense significantly as a rookie. The moments where we got to see that happen were overwhelmingly satisfying.
Like against the New Orleans Saints, when he caught four passes for 80 yards.
Against the New England Patriots, when he had 153 total yards as the Seahawks became the only team to beat Tom Brady last season.
And against the Philadelphia Eagles, when Prosise had a 72-yard run.
Even if Eddie Lacy and Thomas Rawls remain healthy all season, Prosise has a skillset that won’t keep him off of the field for long periods of time. And when he does touch the ball, we can already anticipate that six is possible. That’s not a trait that we get to see often and even with the amount of success that Seattle has had in the last five years, I can’t think of many Seahawks who have possessed that same quality recently.
It’s not what I think of when I think of Doug Baldwin, though he’s great in other ways that make him exceedingly valuable. It’s not what I think of when I think of Jimmy Graham. Or even Marshawn Lynch. Really, the best comparison in that regard would have to be Percy Harvin.
Repeat for the second time: Shut the hell up about injuries.
Harvin is considerably smaller than Prosise, being about 30 lbs lighter, but barely faster (4.41) and with an identical broad jump with two extra inches of vert. But they both have exceptional qualities when carrying the ball against a bevy of would-be tacklers.
(Do yourself a favor and hit up this C.J. Prosise video breakdown by Coleman Crawford again.)
Seattle’s pricey acquisition of Harvin in 2013 was a sign that Carroll believes that the Seahawks could be the best overall team in the NFL when they have an explosive offensive weapon. He trusts his defense, special teams, and quarterback. What he wants, and what he’s clearly always been striving for with players like Lynch and Russell Wilson, are guys who can make things happen without great blocking or protection. Tackle-breakers. Ankle-breakers. Ummm... Breaker-Breakers-one-nine.
Carroll was overwhelmed with joy for Prosise at OTAs this year:
"It was incredibly beneficial for us to see C.J. make it through the whole time," Carroll said. "He has a great scope that he fills for us. He can come out of the backfield, and he can run routes as a receiver, and he looked really good running the ball behind the line of scrimmage.
"So he goes into this six weeks hugely ahead of where he's been in years past, and we have really high hopes."
Look around the league today and you’ll find that in Kansas City, Tyreek Hill is the Chiefs’ number one receiving threat and also someone who averaged 11.1 yards per carry. In Arizona, David Johnson is being talked about as the Cardinals number two receiver, despite the fact that he also rushed for 1,239 yards last season. In Carolina, two rookies — eighth overall pick Christian McCaffrey and 40th overall pick Curtis Samuel — basically find themselves listed as either receiver or running back depending on where you look or what play the Panthers are ringing up.
Going down the line, you’ll also find players like James White, Tavon Austin, Duke Johnson, Ty Montgomery, and OG Darren Sproles, as players who straddle the line between runner and receiver in an ever-evolving league that demands that every back has more threats than Barbara Streisand.
And Prosise has the potential to be as good as any of them.
With more time on the field, Prosise could prove to be Wilson’s long-term tag team partner in the backfield, either lining up under his hip, behind him in an I, in the slot, or lined up wide. He can hit home runs from any of those spots. With 16 games, Prosise could be the guy who averages 5.5 yards per carry on limited-but-calculated rush attempts, and also receive 60 targets that results in about 50 catches for 550 yards and a handful of touchdowns. That’s a lot of production from someone who is only slated to be the number three back.
But he’s also perhaps the most exciting weapon stashed on any roster in the league. And I just want to be hyped about it.
Please, don’t kill my hype.