McKis­sic tak­ing run at every­man role

Ver­sa­tile Sea­hawks re­ceiver/run­ning back may get long look at lat­ter po­si­tion af­ter solid pre-sea­son

The Province - - SPORTS / FOOTBALL - BOB CONDOTTA SEAT­TLE TIMES

J.D. McKis­sic took the prac­tice field for the Sea­hawks Tuesday wear­ing a new jersey num­ber — 37 in­stead of the 14 he has been wear­ing all of train­ing camp.

It was a change McKis­sic said didn’t come from him. In­stead, he sim­ply showed up and found a new num­ber hang­ing in his locker.

Is there mean­ing be­hind the change? “I’m think­ing it is, yeah,” he said. In­deed, the jersey change could in­di­cate a sub­tle shift in how the Sea­hawks view McKis­sic.

Due to the fact there are 90 play­ers on a train­ing camp ros­ter, rules on what num­bers play­ers can wear are lax for pre-sea­son games.

But dur­ing the sea­son, play­ers who are run­ning backs must wear a num­ber from 20-49. Re­ceivers, mean­while, have to wear ei­ther 10-19 or 80-89 (one ex­cep­tion is for play­ers who have played at least one sea­son at one po­si­tion be­fore switch­ing to an­other).

The jersey change re­flects that af­ter spend­ing most of the pre-sea­son play­ing re­ceiver, McKis­sic spent last week as a run­ning back — he had seven car­ries for 46 yards in a 26-13 win over the Chiefs, the lat­ter ty­ing Chris Car­son as a team high, while also mak­ing two catches for 21 yards.

McKis­sic got some of his ac­tion as a third-down back, a role usu­ally held by C.J. Pro­sise. But Pro­sise missed the last two games with a groin in­jury and the Sea­hawks ap­pear to have been see­ing how McKis­sic — who has played both run­ning back and re­ceiver in his ca­reer and set a school record with 289 re­cep­tions at Arkansas State — could fill that role.

“Go­ing into last week, I re­ally only got a cou­ple of re­ceiver reps at prac­tice,” McKis­sic said. “The main thing for me was to come in and learn all the re­ceiver routes and I did that. Try to learn the po­si­tion that they wanted me to play at re­ceiver, the slot and out­side. And now it’s to lock in on run­ning back and get all that squared away.”

In­deed if McKis­sic is to earn a ros­ter spot, it will be due to his abil­ity to fill a num­ber of roles — “what­ever they ask me to do,” McKis­sic says. He has also been the team’s pri­mary punt and kick­off re­turner with Tyler Lock­ett out.

Lock­ett will ap­par­ently be ready for the reg­u­lar sea­son, though he won’t play in the pre-sea­son — he will also miss Thurs­day’s game in Oak­land while hav­ing Regenokine blood treat­ment on his leg.

With Lock­ett hav­ing yet to play, the Sea­hawks would seem to want some­one else on the ros­ter who can han­dle some of the re­turn du­ties. A few play­ers who seem cer­tain to make the fi­nal 53-man ros­ter, such as Paul Richard­son, can also han­dle re­turn du­ties, so McKis­sic isn’t nec­es­sar­ily the only op­tion.

But if McKis­sic, who was claimed off waivers from At­lanta last De­cem­ber and played in the fi­nal reg­u­lar sea­son game and both play­off games, can also show he can serve as depth at both re­ceiver and run­ning back, he could be a valu­able ad­di­tion to the ros­ter. McKis­sic, in fact, was pri­mar­ily a run­ning back for the Sea­hawks last sea­son (when he wore No. 30) get­ting one carry for three yards in the di­vi­sional play­off loss at At­lanta.

“We are mov­ing him around, do­ing a lot of things with him,” Car­roll said of the 5-foot-10, 195-pounder. “The re­turn game for sure. He can play re­ceiver, he can play run­ning back, he can do it all. He’s a very valu­able player as he’s merg­ing with us.”

Car­roll also has raved about McKis­sic’s play on spe­cial teams cov­er­age units — he has two solo tack­les on kick­offs.

“He’s cov­ered two kick­offs,” Car­roll said. “He had a great hit in Week 1, he had an ex­cel­lent play in Week 2 ... Shoot, I love the way he’s play­ing.”

That McKis­sic may sud­denly be re­garded by the team as more of a run­ning back than a re­ceiver may be mean­ing­ful mostly in how much faith the Sea­hawks show in his abil­ity to play sev­eral dif­fer­ent roles as much as any­thing else. Ul­ti­mately, Seat­tle has to cut its ros­ter by Satur­day and how many are run­ning backs and how many are re­ceivers are not nec­es­sar­ily as im­por­tant as keep­ing the best 53.

But it could have some im­pli­ca­tions on some of the other run­ning backs on the ros­ter, no­tably Alex Collins, a fifth-round pick last sea­son who didn’t get a carry against the Chiefs.

— THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS FILES

The Sea­hawks’ J.D. McKis­sic could be in line for in­creased run­ning back reps af­ter ty­ing for the team lead in rush­ing last week against Kansas City.

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