Bumpus: What to expect from Seahawks RB Walker in NFL debut

Sep 16, 2022, 3:25 PM | Updated: 3:25 pm
Seahawks Kenneth Walker...
Michigan State RB Kenneth Walker III tries to break a tackle against Maryland on Nov. 13, 2021. (Photo by Mike Mulholland/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mike Mulholland/Getty Images)

The Seahawks’ Week 2 injury report was a short one, and it was missing a very notable name in rookie running back Ken Walker III.

Seahawks Injury Report: Ken Walker III set to make debut vs 49ers

Walker, one of two second-round picks the Seahawks selected this year, did not play in Week 1 – or in the team’s final two preseason games – due to a hernia surgery. But the young back is set to make his NFL debut on Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers.

But how much will Walker be used off the bat? And what should we expect from him when he’s on the field? Former NFL receiver Michael Bumpus broke it down on Friday during conversations on the Seattle Sports airwaves with Mike Salk and Stacy Rost.

During his morning talk on Brock and Salk, Bumpus pointed to the Seahawks having Rashaad Penny as a reason to temper expectations for Walker’s Week 2 usage.

“I think Penny just has to be the priority,” he said. “I mean, it’s nice to have Ken Walker. You have a young buck back there who can give Penny some relief. But priority is making sure Penny is good to go and that he does find his rhythm.”

That rhythm is important as Penny, when healthy and at his best, can break off long runs for huge gains as we saw at the end of last season when he was the league’s most productive back the last month of 2021. And Bumpus has heard Penny say it takes him five or more carries to get into a rhythm.

“I’m not saying you just go 10 straight carries and you don’t let (Walker) work,” he said. “But I think that you emphasize getting Penny the rock. And then he’s gonna need a blow every now and then … Once he has one of those big runs or maybe has three or four consecutive runs, then you can get Ken Walker in the game and you see what the young man can do. But I think you prioritize Penny and you just make sure Walker’s ready. Remember he still is a rookie … We want to see him carry the rock, but he’s got to wait his turn. He’s there to backup Penny, not to necessarily take over.”

If Penny gets the bulk of the workload out of the backfield for the Seahawks, how many touches should we expect from Walker in his first game? Bumpus shared his thoughts on Bump and Stacy.

“I think we’ll get six carries 30 yards 25 yards,” he said.

“You have to ease him into this. He had a hernia-type deal going on. You don’t just want to throw him out there and say ‘Alright, let’s see what you can do,'” Bumpus later added. “You want to allow Rashaad Penny to break the ice and then you slip Ken Walker in there. I think you’ll get enough to see the potential in this young man, but not his full potential. You don’t want to force this situation. Be careful with him.”

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Bumpus: What to expect from Seahawks RB Walker in NFL debut