RENTON -- Six carries, minus-2 yards.
On the surface it would seem to be an alarming stat line for a running back that was a first round pick just a season ago. But if you're expecting Rashaad Penny or the Seahawks to be any bit concerned about that stat line from Sunday's preseason game in Minnesota you'd be wrong.
"I can't judge my game off what happened last week. I mean, everybody was watching," Penny said.
What Penny is referring to is the 'how' of the stat line above. On all six carries Penny received with the second-team offense against the Vikings, he was hit behind the line of scrimmage on every single one of them. Two safety blitzes from Jayron Kearse resulted in a pair of negative runs. One of the few successful carries came on a third-and-long backed up near their own end zone on what was essentially a throwaway down to set up a punt.
"I'm only taking what I can get," Penny said. "I'm just trying to get positive gains and whatever happens from there happens. I'm trying to be that more dynamic back, I'm trying to break a lot of tackles. It's kind of hard at times but I'm trying to develop a run style like Chris. His running style is unique. The littlest hole he always tries to find his way through and he gets his way through and that's something I'm trying to develop. It's hard to see when defenses start scheming your offense up and they start just running blitzes, so it's hard. It's just something that I got to get adjusted too and just take whatever I can get."
Another reason why Penny's night felt in the moment to be so much more disappointing that it actually was is the direct comparison to the night Chris Carson had with the first-team offense. Carson gained 25 yards on five carries as part of two promising drives from the starting unit. When the second-team, and Penny, took over in the second quarter, that success evaporated. On it's surface it looks like a flashing siren. The reality is rather different.
"He just couldn't get going. It's not... It had nothing to do with it. There were just plays where we had leakage and he couldn't get started. He needs to get rolling. ... Rashaad looked good on the screen. He just needs some space. We've got to block for him better than that. He didn't have a chance," Carroll said after the game.
Meanwhile, the Seahawks have been quite pleased with how Penny has progressed heading into his second season with the team. And Carroll and staff don't view the gap between Carson and Penny as being all that significant.
"He’s doing fine, he’s been great," Carroll said. "That game didn’t show it but, he did well when he had his chances. He’s had a lot of plays where he hasn’t had much space. ... He’s done great, he’s in great shape, he’s working hard, his pass protection has skyrocketed from where it was before. His awareness back there, getting out of the backfield, all of that stuff is really good so he’s doing fine. To me, he’s right in there matched up, fighting for first downs, he’s fighting with Chris every day. I hope that competition continues, I don’t know which way that turns out, I don’t care, it doesn’t matter to me. I love the way Chris plays and I love the way Penny plays, we’re very fortunate to have two guys that can really carry the load out there.
"He’s stronger, he’s leaner, and he just looks quicker and he’s looked quick throughout. That’s a result of a really good offseason, some really diligent work, the power and the strength work that he did really paid off.”
Photo Credit: MINNEAPOLIS, MN - AUGUST 18: Jayron Kearse #27 of the Minnesota Vikings tackles Rashaad Penny #20 of the Seattle Seahawks during the pre-season game at U.S. Bank Stadium on August 18, 2019 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)