Huard: What do Seahawks do at No. 2 RB with Alex Collins, Rashaad Penny?

Aug 30, 2021, 12:21 PM

Seahawks Alex Collins...

Alex Collins had the Seahawks' only rushing touchdown of the preseason. (Getty)


When it came to the Seahawks’ backfield ahead of the preseason, all eyes were on a former Seattle draft pick who hoped to finally reach the potential he had shown flashes of earlier in his career.

Rost: What we learned, are still wondering about from Hawks’ preseason

Now that the preseason is over, that remains the case – only we’re talking about a different running back altogether.

The first running back is Rashaad Penny, Seattle’s 2018 first-round pick out of San Diego State who tore his ACL late in the 2019 season and played only sparingly in three games late last season. Injuries have been the story of his career as he enters the last year of his rookie contract, though he had a pair of strong games in 2019 directly preceding his ACL tear.

The second running back is Alex Collins, a 2016 fifth-round pick by Seattle who nearly ran for 1,000 yards in 2017 while with Baltimore but missed the entire 2019 season and had to work his way back up from the Seahawks’ practice squad last year.

While hopes were pinned on Penny reestablishing himself as Chris Carson’s backup this year, after Seattle’s three preseason games it’s Collins who has everybody’s attention. Collins, 27, rushed for 58 yards on 19 attempts, had Seattle’s lone rushing touchdown of the preseason, and even led the team in receiving yards with 73 on 10 catches. The 25-year-old Penny, on the other hand, ran for 32 yards on 11 carries and added two catches for 11 yards but missed one of the games due to a thigh injury.

Penny’s status as a former first-round pick adds a wrinkle to things, but it’s not enough for FOX football analyst Brock Huard to disregard what Collins has done, as he explained Monday on 710 ESPN Seattle’s Danny and Gallant.

“I think Rashaad still has a higher ceiling, I think he has more home run capability, but I think Alex Collins is a lot more doubles, and doubles, and doubles,” said Huard, using a baseball analogy to compare the two backs. “Penny, it feels it’s either a single or a home run. There’s very little in between there.”

That’s not the only reason Huard has for saying Collins deserves to be Seattle’s No. 2 running back to start the regular season on Sept. 12 against the Indianapolis Colts.

“If this is about competition and ‘compete every day,’ Alex Collins has been durable and available in camp, he’s slimmer, his feet look as good as they did back in the day in college when I saw him play multiple times and rush for over 1,000 yards every season for Bret Bielema (at Arkansas),” he said. “I think going into this week, the message that sends to your team as well is you got to go out there and earn it. Don’t care that you’re a first-round pick. You’ve been out, Rashaad Penny, which has been the case for the entirety of your career as a Seahawk.

“Alex Collins has come in, he’s done everything we’ve asked and he’s shown some highlight-reel plays, some incredible quickness and the feet that made him a 1,000-yard back in Baltimore. I think he’s going to be the 2 in Indy and Rashaad should be the 3.”

What about the other RBs?

Collins and Penny weren’t the only running backs competing to be Carson’s backup. The Seahawks also have DeeJay Dallas, a 2020 draft pick who shined this preseason in the return and passing games, as well as Travis Homer and Josh Johnson, the latter of whom actually led Seattle with 74 rushing yards in the preseason.

Huard, who has mentioned Seattle’s lack of depth at cornerback and the potential of a trade in recent weeks, still thinks that’s a possibility ahead of Tuesday’s 1 p.m. NFL deadline for teams to cut down to a 53-man roster.

“You got a corner out there you like? Can you package a running back and somebody else from an area on strength?” he posed. “I’d be pretty shocked if we don’t see somebody from another team come in and make this 53-man roster out of the gate.”

You can hear the full conversation in the Blue 42 segment of Danny and Gallant in the podcast at this link or in the player below.

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Huard: What do Seahawks do at No. 2 RB with Alex Collins, Rashaad Penny?