Rost: Seahawks suddenly have 1-2 punch at RB with Carson and Penny

Dec 3, 2019, 1:29 AM
Seahawks RB Rashaad Penny...
Seahawks RB Rashaad Penny had a strong follow up Monday to a breakout in Week 12. (Getty)

When the Seahawks drafted Rashaad Penny with the 27th overall pick in 2018, they had seen just four games from then-second year running back Chris Carson and had yet to have a healthy season from 2016 third-round pick C.J. Prosise. But they saw potential with both Carson and Prosise, and Penny was a compliment to a young, competitive group of tailbacks heading up a revamped run game.

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Pete Carroll was positively “tickled” about the possibility of having a trio of three-down running backs.

“It gives us a really good, competitive room,” Carroll said the day the team drafted Penny. “I’m tickled about this and I think it’s going to be exciting for everybody. Our coaches, our fans and our players in the locker room. To see how we can mix this thing together and how we can make it a great aspect to our team.”

The Seahawks’ run game did take off that year, though the bulk of the carries went to Carson, who became the first Seahawks running back in four years to rush for 1,000 yards or more in a single season. In a rookie year that began with a broken finger in the preseason, meanwhile, Penny fell behind in the rotation. He finished with 419 yards and two touchdowns on 85 attempts in 2018, a season that saw him rush for 10 or fewer yards in six games, including two where played no snaps on offense.

Through most of the 2019 season, fans had yet to see a one-two punch from Seattle’s running backs – but the last two weeks have brought a change.

In a win over the Minnesota Vikings on Monday night, Penny and Carson combined for 176 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Penny, who had 74 yards on 15 carries for an average of 4.9 yards per carry, was also targeted five times and had four catches for 33 yards and other TD. The performance came just a week after Penny finished with 129 yards and a touchdown against the Eagles in his best game as a pro.

“It is awesome,” Carroll said of the performance from the tandem Monday. “It is so much fun to see those two guys battling it out.  I think Chris got 100 and Rashaad got 70-something.  That’s fantastic.  I thought Rashaad looked so fast tonight.  He just looked so explosive.  The screen play was a beautiful call, and beautiful execution, and it just showed that burst that he has and why he’s so exciting.”

The emergence of Penny comes at an ideal time for the Seahawks, not only because it provides depth at the position – a brief exit by Carson in the first quarter due to a potential injury was a prime example – but also because it gives the team another weapon as they look to keep the 10-2 San Francisco 49ers at bay in the NFC West.

“We take a lot of pride in our running game,” left tackle Duane Brown said. “Having those two as the one two punch, you couldn’t ask for anything better. They run behind their pads, get down to the second level and we appreciate them.”

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