How Rashaad Penny’s huge game showed Adrian Peterson’s influence

Jan 3, 2022, 2:30 PM
Seahawks Rashaad Penny...
Seahawks running back Rashaad Penny rushes against the Lions in Seattle's 51-29 win Sunday. (AP Photo/John Froschauer)
(AP Photo/John Froschauer)

A lot of attention after the Seahawks’ 51-29 blowout win over the Detroit Lions on Sunday is being paid to the possible ending of an era in Seattle, but one performance from the game could be looked at as a potential passing of the torch.

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Running back Rashaad Penny continued his stellar run down the stretch for the Seahawks by not only rushing for over 130 yards for the third time in his last four games, but putting together a career-best day. The 25-year-old Penny rushed for 170 yards and two touchdowns in the most eye-opening showing of the game, and it could be something Seattle looks to build upon next season if Penny returns.

Penny’s tenure with Seattle had largely been seen as a disappointment as the Seahawks selected him in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft but he has been sidelined by injury for much of his career. Penny didn’t start a single game at running back until this season, and while he had one 100-yard game as a rookie and two with over 100 yards of total offense in 2019, a devastating ACL injury in December 2019 continued to impact him into 2021. He appeared in only three games in 2020 and played just four games before Week 13 of this season as he continued to deal with various issues possibly linked to his long recovery from knee surgery.

That all appears to have been put behind him, as he has 559 yards, five touchdowns and an average of 5.8 yards per rush in nine games this season, including five starts.

A lot has been made of Penny’s performance since Seattle signed all-time great running back Adrian Peterson to its practice squad, and Monday on 710 ESPN Seattle’s Pete Carroll Show, the Seahawks head coach shared his thoughts on how Peterson’s influence has shined through in Penny’s performance.

“It just looks like there’s been a kind of an uptick in everything,” Carroll said when asked by Mike Salk about Peterson’s impact on Penny. “He’s just flying around and he’s taking every snap as serious as you can. And (that’s) not to knock what (Penny) had done before – it’s just everything has stepped up, which is what Adrian brought in and demonstrated. Every single step he took (Sunday) was with purpose and meaning, and he was trying to learn something, to get something done, accomplish the tempo, the timing.”

Carroll then pointed to one particular play from Sunday where he saw a new move Penny picked up from Peterson.

“I don’t know if you remember the play where Rashaad runs up in there and hops over, through the line of scrimmage, something that Adrian – I don’t remember seeing Rashaad do that, he may have in the past but I don’t remember seeing him do that – but picking your feet up going through the hole was something that we talked about and demonstrated to Rashaad, and I’ll be darned if it didn’t show up in the game.”

Penny’s future is something else that is uncertain in Seattle with him set to be a free agent after the season. He’s certainly putting his best foot forward to show the Seahawks why they should make re-signing him a priority, though.

“I think we’ve run the ball really well and blocked well up front, and we’ve seen that the emergence of Rashaad Penny and he’s just done a fantastic job for us,” Carroll said of the 5-foot-11, 220-pound back. “… There’s a subtlety to him. He is very bursty quick, and he just jumps on you … That’s a big load. You can’t knock him off his feet easily, and that coupled with the speed is making the impact.”

You can hear Carroll’s full thoughts on Penny and much more in Monday’s edition of The Pete Carroll Show at this link or in the podcast below.

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Mike Salk

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How Rashaad Penny’s huge game showed Adrian Peterson’s influence