In Week 5, the Seattle Seahawks enjoyed their best rushing game in what feels like eons.
They did so with first-round pick Rashaad Penny anchored to the bench. Chris Carson and Mike Davis carried the load to the tune of 184 combined rushing yards on 31 carries. The rookie didn’t play a single offensive snap and saw just one on special teams.
Coach Pete Carroll said Penny’s response to being an afterthought is what he expects from a competitor.
“He’s handling it but he’s frustrated and that’s exactly what I want,” Carroll said, via ESPN.com. “I want him to be frustrated, I want him to be anxious to get out there, I want him to be unsatisfied with what’s going on right now. That’s fine. I think that’s the only way he should be. He’s classy and he’s for the team and every time he would say anything, he would always talk about the team first so he’s got his priorities in line and I expect him to keep battling.”
In the four games he did play, the first-round pick wasn’t productive, totaling 92 rushing yards on 29 attempts (long of 15 yards) and four receptions for 35 yards. According to Pro Football Focus, Penny has been stuffed either at or behind the line of scrimmage on 27.6 percent of his attempts — seventh-worst rate among RBs with at least 10 carries through Week 4.
The rookie hasn’t yet shown the vision to find small creases and the patience to let the play develop inside.
Carroll noted Penny’s injury during training camp set him back.
The scrutiny on Penny’s play wouldn’t be so great if the Seahawks hadn’t used a first-round pick on him. They did. And with two later-round running backs performing better, Penny will have to wait for a chance to prove his worth.
“He’s just looking for his opportunity,” Carroll said of Penny. “He’s dying to get in there. He’s just scratching, clawing to get back out there and get more turns. There just wasn’t enough [opportunities], but this is a long season, there’s a lot of carries, there’s a lot of running to be done. I can’t wait to see him get in there and get going too.”
Given the injury history to Carson and Davis, odds are Penny will get another shot down the road to show Seattle the traits that made him a first-rounder.