RENTON, Wash. - Seattle running back Rashaad Penny has an uphill climb ahead of him to unseat starter Chris Carson. The first step in that process for Penny is demonstrating to the coaching staff that he is capable of matching the consistent displayed last season by his competition, who led the team with 1,151 rushing yards.
So far through voluntary offseason training activities, Penny has been nothing less than impressive, according to offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, who said he sees in the second-year back a more mature and professional individual.
An example of Penny's versatility and talent offered up by Schottenheimer involved the 220-pounder running a choice route out of the backfield, deftly setting up a linebacker and then getting open for the reception.
That was the thought process that compelled Seattle last year to selected Penny in the first round of the NFL Draft out of San Diego State. An injury during training camp set him back while Carson, a seventh-round pick in 2017, emerged as the clear starter. Penny showed flashes during the season while rushing for 419 yards and two touchdowns with an average of 4.9 yards per carry. But Carson, who has been sitting out of OTAs with a tweaked knee, proved to be the more consistent professional and remained the starter when healthy.
Penny has one trait that Carson does not and that's explosive speed. If Penny can put together the rest of this game, that breakaway ability would make him difficult to keep him on the sideline. Although it's only June, Schottenheimer said Penny appears to be a different man this time around.
"I'm really pleased with the way he's attacking practice right now," Schottenheimer said. "Last year he didn't know what he didn't know. Now he's got some leadership ability. He's getting a ton of reps because obviously Chris is out. It's been fun to watch him grow. The talent is there. We all know that. It's just him putting together consecutive days in a row. And I think he's done that the last couple of weeks. It's been cool to watch him mature."
Seattle coach Pete Carroll said that Penny appears leaner and faster than he did last year, which should only enhance his chances of making a bigger impact in 2019.
"He looks great. He looks great," Carroll said. "He’s fast, he’s lean, he looks like the off season that he put forth and then also what he’s done with our guys has been working right on point. He’s doing really well. He’s trimmed a little bit. Yeah. He’s stronger than he was, I think, so he’s transferred some weight. But he looks great right now, so we’re really happy with them."