RENTON, Wash. (AP) — Coming off a career-best performance last week against the Philadelphia Eagles, Seattle Seahawks running back Rashaad Penny is eager for his next opportunity to show he’s capable of carrying the rushing load.
“I’m young. I’ve got a lot (more) carries under my belt. I can take a lot of load if they want me to. I’m just happy to get the opportunity more than anything,” Penny said.
Penny rushed for 129 yards on 14 carries with a touchdown against the Eagles last Sunday. Penny had three carries go for at least 20 yards, including a 58-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter that effectively sealed a 17-9 victory over Philadelphia.
“It was great to see him come through and make some big plays and big runs and looked so darn fast on his touchdown run,” coach Pete Carroll said.
“He came through beautifully. It was really a sweet game for him.”
Penny was Seattle’s first-round draft pick a season ago, but he’s been overshadowed by Chris Carson during his first two seasons in the NFL. A broken finger in training camp served as an early setback and adjusting to Seattle’s shotgun-heavy attack after playing in a mostly two-back offense at San Diego State was another hurdle to overcome.
Meanwhile, Carson has been mostly stellar as the team’s lead rusher. That reality has forced Penny into a complementary role where he’d only seen 85 total snaps in seven games played all season entering last week’s game in Philadelphia. But Penny was ready to make the most of his chances when they came against the Eagles.
“It was just the opportunity,” Penny said. “Finally able to run the ball and get in a groove.”
Penny said he’s lighter this season after committing to a nutrition plan throughout the season. He continually gained weight as his rookie season progressed and it didn’t allow him to produce the way he wanted to. He’s now at 230 pounds and is able to maintain his nimbleness.
“He sure has an explosive style that shows up,” Carroll said. “It’s his burst, he’s got really good feet, really unique, quick feet. ... He’s a big kid running the football and then his burst is just really obvious. We’ve seen it a number of times when he’s taken off and made big plays for us.”
Penny made cornerback Rasul Douglas miss in open space on a 21-yard carry early in the fourth quarter. Two plays later, he sliced through a well-blocked front and sprinted by safety Rodney McLeod into the clear. A feeble tackle attempt from Ronald Darby came at the 13-yard line as Penny bounced off the Eagles cornerback and walked in for the 58-yard touchdown that gave Seattle a 17-3 lead.
“We have a lot of love for Penny,” left tackle Duane Brown said. “We know that he’s a home run hitter and he showed it. We were waiting. We were getting some runs, you know maybe 4 (yards) here or 5 (yards) there. We knew eventually we could break a big one and it happened.”
Carson has just six carries of at least 20 yards all season despite having more than four times as many carries on the year. Penny had three against the Eagles alone and four on the year overall, including a 38-yard touchdown against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Penny’s ability for long runs is one area where he stands out and the Seahawks will hope to get more of those plays out of Penny moving forward.
“He’s ready to go and we’re going to see if we can get some more out of it,” Carroll said.