Remember when the Seahawks did fist pumps over landing running back Rashaad Penny in round one while media members zealously applauded the team for getting a tailback who was destined to be much better than widely perceived? Remember when Penny himself bristled at the fact that his name wasn’t mentioned in the same breath as Saquon Barkley?
With Carson injured last week, it appeared to be Penny’s chance to prove what he can do. And the Seahawks instead opted to roll with Mike Davis, who had 124 total yards and two touchdowns in a road win over Arizona. Penny had nine carries for 49 yards, a respectable showing but apparently not enough to get meaningful chances — especially with Carson back.
“Chris is ready to go,” coach Pete Carroll told reporters on Saturday. “He had a great week.”
So how will Carroll divide carries between his available tailbacks?
“That’s a good problem,” he said. “We’re looking forward to our guys playing and I’ll let you know when we start playing.”
Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer was slightly more revealing, when asked whether there’s a running back rotation.
“I would agree with that,” Schottenheimer said. “I think we have a number of backs that can challenge you different ways. That’s why it’s hard to get guys rolling sometimes but I think we’ve figured that out the last two weeks, that you go in with a mindset of ‘Okay, this is the guy that we’re going to start with,’ and if things don’t work out that way then you adjust but Chris the week before got significantly most of the touches and then this last week, the plan was to let Mike go. A veteran player, let him get started, see how he does and he didn’t disappoint.”
Penny’s name was mentioned by neither Carroll nor Schottenheimer in their most recent media sessions. And while the online depth chart still shows Penny as the No. 2 man behind Carson and Davis at No. 4, it’s clear that’s changed.
Penny has 92 total rushing yards on the season. He could get some opportunities in the rotation the Seahawks now plan to use, but his performance to date underscores the reality that good running backs can be found anywhere and everywhere. Carson was a seventh-rounder and Davis arrived via waivers from the 49ers. Proving yet again that team that would use a first-round pick on a tailback needs to see something special that would make him both a guy who will merit plenty of work and a guy who will thrive with those opportunities.
Penny could still become that guy. The fact that he already hasn’t makes it fair to wonder whether the Seahawks should have gone in a different direction with their first-round pick.