LOS ANGELES - Rashaad Penny felt frustrated. Not because he didn't believe that Chris Carson deserved to be Seattle's starting running back, but because the first-round pick had been lost in the shuffle.
He received just four carries against the Los Angeles Chargers last week and in Detroit didn't appear in one offensive snap. Deep down he knew he could get the job done. He just needed opportunity.
On Sunday, Penny unleashed all of his frustration on the Los Angeles Rams during a 36-31 loss at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, 123 miles north of where he starred at San Diego State. Penny rushed for 108 yards on 12 carries as the backup to Mike Davis, who started in place of Carson, out with a hip injury.
Penny had runs of 38 yards and 18 yards in the first quarter, the latter of which went for a touchdown. On both plays, he demonstrated the same patience, vision and speed that allowed him to rush for 3,656 yards for the Aztecs. Penny said his performance was born from learning to remain patient, playing with confidence and letting the game come to him rather than overthinking.
"Our offensive coordinator [Brian Schottenheimer] just told me to do my job, take one play at a time." Penny said. "I think that was the most important thing for me. I kind of worried about two or three plays ahead instead of the one play that I needed to focus on. Now I’ve just got to find my groove, and I think I am more ready.”
"We’ve been on him hard," Carroll said. "We’ve been challenging him to get right, work at the right tempo all week, find what it’s like to be pro, just teaching a young guy figure it out. He’s been very open, very receptive...Maybe from this point forward you see him just take off. He looked fantastic today. It’s great for us.”
Carson and Davis are power backs who run relentlessly hard, which is what Carroll likes to see from his backs. Penny has a speed dimension that both Carson and Davis lack. Getting Penny up to speed would add a dimension to the backfield that has been missing most of the season. Penny showed flashes of his abilities with nine carries for 49 yards at Arizona in Week 3 and his 43 yards on nine carries against Oakland in London a few weeks a go. All told, however, he entered Sunday with 146 yards rushing on 42 carries.
"He stayed humble," quarterback Russell Wilson said. "He stayed working his tail off everyday. He’s going to be a great player for us. He’s physical, knows how to run it, sees the reads really well, and stayed the course throughout this journey. So, we’ve got a great stable of running backs."