Thursday night the Seattle Seahawks will take on the Oakland Raiders in the preseason finale, which is the last chance for players to make an impression on the coaching staff and fans before the front office must make their final decisions about paring the roster down to 53 players before 4 pm New York time on Saturday. Prior to last Saturday’s game against the Los Angeles Chargers, most would have written off C.J. Prosise due to a three year string of seemingly non-stop injuries which led to most fans losing faith in his ability to not break on first contact.
However, all that may have changed in a matter of five carries against the Chargers, as he showed, the skills that led the Hawks to use a third round pick on him back in 2016. It’s obviously a small sample of just five carries, but on those carries he showed patience, power and the ability to set up his blockers that are necessary for success in the NFL. In short, he demonstrated that if he can stay healthy, he belongs in the NFL. That is, of course, an if the size of which is impossible to understate, however, we’ve seen the Seahawks give second and third and fourth chances, and so now it’s on C.J. to show how well his health meter can hold up.
Without wasting any more of your time, let’s jump right to the clips of his five carries from the game Saturday.
Every C.J. Prosise carry against the Chargers pic.twitter.com/rAADtHvotf— John P. Gilbert (@JohnPGilbertNFL) August 29, 2019
Having watched those, I’d like to highlight three things that jumped out. The first was the power and strength he showed on the first run. He might have battled injuries the past three seasons, but you’d never know it based on how happy he is to lower his shoulder into the chest of the safety that stepped up to make the tackle. Now, it’s Rayshawn Jenkins, who had been a backup, but following the injury to Derwin James is now projected to be a starter for the Chargers this season. He’s not the biggest player on the field, but he’s listed at 6’1”, 220 pounds, so it’s not as if it’s a diminuitive nickel corner that Prosise is rolling over.
It, of course, would be more impressive if he were running over James, but I’ll take what I can get at this point. The next thing I want to highlight comes from the very next run. Prosise does an absolutely fantastic job of showing patience and what’s called pressing the line to set up Ethan Pocic for his block. The next clip is in slow motion so that it’s easier to see what I’m talking about. On the play Prosise takes the handoff and proceeds towards the giant hole that forms on the left side of the line with patience.
The patience is key for two reasons which become apparent when watching the video in slow motion. First of all, if Prosise takes the handoff and explodes into the hole, he’d run right into Denzel Perryman, one of the Chargers starting linebackers. Here’s a still of the clip with Perryman circled.
On this play Pocic initially helps Justin Britt on a double team before sliding off to briefly engage Perryman. There two keys to watch for as Prosise works his way out of the backfield. The first is the patience that Prosise uses to not outrun Pocic past the line of scrimmage. Again, if Prosise takes the ball at a dead sprint and blows through the hole at top speed, he’s met by Perryman before Pocic has a chance to slide off the double and engage Perryman. The second key is how he presses Pocic to force Perryman into engaging the block. He continues forward, slowly, until Pocic has his hands on Perryman, at which point Prosise plants his right foot and then proceeds through the hole at full speed.
Here’s the full play in slow motion, and remember to pay particular attention to how he creeps up straight behind Pocic until Pocic and Perryman engage just enough that he can slip by to the outside without Perryman making the tackle.
In short, although Prosise only got a handful of carries against the Chargers, he showed the skillset of an NFL caliber running back. It will certainly be interesting to see how much he plays and whether he can continue to show out against the Raiders on Thursday.
However, if he’s healthy after the Raiders game, there should be no doubt among fans that he will be on the 53 man roster after the Seahawks make their cuts on Saturday.