Will Fourth Time Be the Charm for Seahawks RB C.J. Prosise?
There’s never been a question about talent when it comes to Seahawks running back C.J. Prosise.
Originally drafted in the third round of the 2016 NFL Draft out of Notre Dame, Prosise brought a unique blend of size, athleticism, and versatility to the equation that few backs possess. When given chances as a rookie, he thrived, showing off the diverse skill set of a potential feature back.
His coming out party occurred against the Patriots in Foxboro on November 13, 2016, as Prosise rushed for 66 yards and caught seven passes for 87 yards against Bill Belichick’s well-coached defense in front of a national audience. The next week, he exploded down the sideline for a 72-yard touchdown run against the Eagles.
But a clean bill of health has ruthlessly eluded Prosise since the Seahawks selected him and his rookie campaign proved to be no different. Shortly after the long touchdown run, he suffered a fractured scapula, officially ending his season after just six games.
Injury after injury kept Prosise on the sidelines and he landed on season-ending injured reserve in each of his first three seasons. In total, he missed 32 out of 48 possible regular season games during that span, amounting to two full seasons worth of games.
Now in the final year of his rookie contract, Prosise may be looking at his last chance to impress and potentially extend his injury-riddled NFL career, whether in Seattle or with another team.
In Sunday’s 28-12 loss to the Rams, former first-round pick Rashaad Penny suffered a torn left ACL, bringing his season to an end. Ironically, injuries befalling a teammate will actually benefit Prosise, who appears to be next in line to take over as Chris Carson’s primary backup.
Unlike his first three seasons, Prosise has actually stayed healthy in 2019, but he’s only been active for seven of Seattle’s 13 games. When he has dressed, his reps on the field have been few and far between, as he’s rushed for 43 yards, caught nine passes for 66 yards, and scored his first touchdown in three years.
While those numbers won’t light the world on fire, Prosise has again shown flashes of being a capable NFL running back and his prior experience as a receiver at Notre Dame creates added flexibility offensively.
Comparing Prosise to Penny, coach Pete Carroll sees plenty of similarities but also pointed out stark differences between the two talented backs.
“He’s got his own style to him. He’s big. He’s over 220 pounds. He’s fast and they’re about the same speed and all that. C.J. has the background as a receiver. That makes him a little bit different type of threat that we’ve always used when we have him in the game plans.”
Prosise presents a matchup problem for linebackers and safeties in coverage and opponents have to respect his route running ability. As the Patriots can attest, he’s a handful running routes from the backfield and the Seahawks have also motioned him out to the slot or outside receiver spot in the past.
As a rusher, Prosise has enough size to effectively run between the tackles and possesses the wiggle necessary to make defenders miss in space. Assuming he can stay healthy, he should be more than serviceable toting the rock when Carson needs a breather.
But that’s a big leap of faith to make when it comes to Prosise – will he be able to actually stay on the field? Will he be able to handle a larger workload without succumbing to injury again?
Reliability and availability haven’t been his calling cards, but entering Week 15, the Seahawks don’t have many options. Even given an injury list that rivals a 600-page novel, his tantalizing talent remains undeniable and Carroll has no choice but to believe he will come through this time to pick up where Penny left off.
“C.J. has always done well when you give him a chance. Now, he’ll know he’s in the game plan and all of that. I’m hoping he’ll contribute in a big way.”