There’s plenty of curiosity, and justifiably so, as to which Seattle Seahawks wide receiver(s) will fill the void left by Doug Baldwin’s retirement. But if training camp is any indication of what’s to come in 2019, it appears that Chris Carson and the rest of Seattle’s running backs will shoulder more of the load in the passing game compared to previous years.
Carson told reporters on Tuesday that his involvement as a receiver is the biggest difference between Year 1 and Year 2 under offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer.
“He’s doing a lot with the running backs,” Carson said of Schottenheimer. “He’s splitting them out wide, putting them in different spots around the field, he’s using us more for pass catching than what he did in the previous years, it’s fun for us.”
Schottenheimer later confirmed his plans to utilize Carson’s ability as a pass catcher, a trait he believes is underrated.
“We need to get him more involved in the passing game,” the team’s offensive coordinator told 710 ESPN Seattle. “He’s got unbelievable hands, and he’s a problem for people coming out of the backfield.”
It’s a solid narrative to build intrigue amid the grind of training camp, but the reality is that it wouldn’t take much for Carson to be “more” involved in the passing game. He had just 24 targets in 14 games last season (1.71 per game). So where on the spectrum of “he will be more involved” to “he will be a focal point” is Schottenheimer envisioning Carson’s role through the air?
Carson’s volume as a receiver during camp suggests it could lean more towards the latter. The third-year running back has been a reliable safety valve for Russell Wilson. The Seahawks have also called Carson’s number on several screen passes throughout camp.
As Carson sees it, he won’t be the only beneficiary out of the backfield. Last year's first-round pick Rashaad Penny has also been heavily involved as a receiver. He and Carson figure to be Seattle’s 1-2 punch. J.D. McKissic, maybe the most natural pass catcher of the group, is likely to fill the change-of-pace role.
“All of the running backs have great hands. It’s good to see us finally be able to use it,” Carson said.