RENTON, Wash. (AP) — This time a year ago, the Seattle Seahawks were in such a dire spot at running back that Skittles became a required accessory on the sideline during games.
Yes, it was this time a year ago that the Seahawks — thinned by injuries — brought Marshawn Lynch out of retirement to try and provide some help in the backfield for the final week of the regular season and into the playoffs.
Safe to say, the Seahawks appear to be in much better shape with their run game heading into the final stages of this season.
“We got three really good, well, four really good running backs that can go in and take over,” Carlos Hyde said. “We got to let the coaches figure that one out. They can stress about that one. Just happy to have us all healthy.”
Going into Sunday’s NFC West showdown with the Los Angeles Rams, the Seahawks are as healthy as they’ve been all season at running back. It comes at a crucial time as the Seahawks offense has evolved from being pass-heavy to finding more balance as the season has progressed.
Chris Carson is back after a foot injury slowed him for about a month. Hyde has recovered enough from toe and hamstring issues and looked fine last week, running for a 50-yard touchdown against Washington. As an added benefit, the Seahawks brought former first-round pick Rashaad Penny back last week after he missed an entire year with a knee injury.
The Seahawks have topped 150 yards rushing in three of their past five games and last week against Washington had 181 yards on the ground, their second-highest total of the season. Russell Wilson's scrambling was part of that, but Seattle's trio of backs carried the majority of the load.
“It feels great to hand the football off to Chris and Carlos whenever you want to go to them, and now that Rashad is back also,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. “We were the opposite end of that last year at this time and so it gives us the feeling that we can do what we need to do, based on, you know, whatever the game brings us.”
Last season, Seattle lost Penny, Carson and C.J. Prosise to major season-ending injuries in consecutive weeks. The conversations with Lynch had started earlier in December but ramped up as the injuries mounted.
Carroll said what happened last year reinforced the need for Seattle to prioritize depth at running back in the offseason. That led to the signing of Hyde and drafting DeeJay Dallas.
“We wanted to make sure and have a couple guys that could bring the same kind of attitude and the approach to the game, so that that was part of it,” Carroll said. “Just knowing how committed we are to wanting to be physical and run the football like we are now. It takes more than one guy.”
The Seahawks weren’t immune to injury issues at the position this season. When they faced the Rams in Week 10, Alex Collins was Seattle’s primary running back with Carson and Hyde both unavailable. Collins had 11 carries for 43 yards in his first significant action in nearly two years.
Having too many options, as the Seahawks do at the moment, is a better situation than the opposite.
“It’s a good problem to have. You need backs,” offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer said. “A couple weeks ago, it seems like we weren’t sure who was going to play. I don’t remember what game that was, I think I blocked it out in my mind. But there was one game we weren’t sure. We were trying guys out and seeing, ‘OK, hey, can you run the ball? Can you do this? Can you do that?’ So it’s a good situation to have.”
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