Seattle Seahawks

Seattle Seahawks

RENTON, Wash. - Seattle's shiny new toy on offense, running back Rashaad Penny, hasn't quite blown away the field in the position battle at the team's most polarizing individual spot.

But the first-round pick out of San Diego State certainly has made his presence felt during Seahawks' training camp, both with his size and speed. Still, as for now, it appears that he will be involved in a rotation at running back with Chris Carson, a possibility that Penny says he is okay with. 

“I did the same thing at San Diego State and I thought it was a great opportunity for me, so doing it here doesn’t matter," Penny said. "At the end of the day, it’s all a competition. All guys know each role and they know what to do. I think that’s the best thing about it, we know each role and we know what to do. But at the end of the day, it’s all love between all of us. We compete our butts off day in and day out, but at the end of the day it’s all love.”

Seattle has been looking for an answer at running back since Marshawn Lynch left the team following the 2015 season. The team, since, has relied on a hodgepodge of running backs, none of whom have come remotely close to Lynch's level. 

 

Selecting Penny out of San Diego State with the 27th pick in the first round signaled Seattle's acknowledgement that it needed to invest heavily in the position in order to help the team improve its running game, which finished last season ranked 23rd in the NFL. Quarterback Russell Wilson led the team with 586 yards rushing. 

Unseating Carson as the starter, however, is not a given. The seventh-round pick in 2017 started three games last season before a fractured leg limited him to four appearances and 208 yards on 49 carries. He has also had a strong camp, according to coach Pete Carroll, creating the feeling that the duo could split carries to start the season, and beyond.

Carroll, who said all of the team's backs performed well in Saturday's mock game, said too many game "snaps" remain before a decision will be made on a starter and how a rotation will work. Seattle's first preseason game is 7 p.m., Thursday night at home against Indianapolis. 

But it is obvious that the Seahawks like what they've seen from Penny.

"No question about Rashaad Penny and the expansive things that he can do and he’s comfortable doing, from short yard running to being split out and use him out of the backfield," Carroll said. 

The power also is there. 

"He weighed in this week at 236, 236 pounds running like that and he can catch the football and all that as well,"  Carroll said. "He’s a really, really exciting addition to this club. Really exciting.” 

Carson also recognizes Penny's assets. 

“He’s a powerful runner," Carson said. "He has a great speed (and) great get away speed. I know you saw it today. When he gets in the open field, he’s real fast.”

The question is how will the pair fit together. 

“It’s just he actually brings that aspect with his speed and I bring that aspect more with power," Carson said. "We are just working hard off of each other.”

Penny, like all rookies, is adjusting to the speed of the NFL. He's also getting used to be more versatile in the NFL.

On receiving: “I mean, I never got to do it in college. Doing it now, I feel comfortable. Catching the ball out of the backfield, or in the slot, or lined up out wide, I think I can really do it.”

On pass protection: “That was a mental thing in college for me. I didn’t get too many reps at it, so I’m out here competing every day once I get the chance to do it. Coaches are throwing me in there just to see what I can do and handle the pressure. I honestly think I’m probably doing well but it’s just the competition. So, it’s fun as well.”
 

On the mental part of the game: "I know the assignment, I know where most guys are. All that comes easy just because I’m in the meetings with the guys. I feel like it’s just the mental part, me just getting down and striking the opponent. And that’s something I’m going to keep working on and I feel like I’m getting better at.”

A lot will be asked from Penny this season. Even though he will have Carson to ease the pressure, when you're a first-round pick at a glamour position, fans will expect spectacular results. Marshawn-like, to be exact. Penny said he isn't feeling any pressure to live up to expectations. 

“Not at all," he said. "I feel like you just go out there and play your game, play football. That’s what they got me here to do. I don’t view myself as a first rounder at all because I’ve been overlooked for so long and it’s nothing new to me. I’m glad I’m in this position and I’m glad I’m still here fighting for the position.”