Who should Seahawks’ starting running back in 2022 NFL season be?

Two obvious candidates stand out above the other, but which of them ends up with more carry depends on a variety of factors.

SEATTLES — Editor’s Note: The above Video of an exclusive KING 5 interview featuring Seahawks running back Rashaad Penny, aired July 21. This story is part of the KING 5 Seahawks Season Preview Series.

Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll has given all indications that the team’s offense will increasingly focus on the ground game following quarterback Russell Wilson’s offseason departure to Denver.

But who will get the lion’s share of carries in new offensive coordinator Shane Waldron’s first season in Seattle?

Following Chris Carson’s injury-related pre-training camp retirement, two obvious candidates stand above the rest of the Seahawks’ current backlog.

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Let’s explore the most likely options to lead Seattle in rushing, and who else might deserve some rushing-back snaps in 2022.

Background: 26-year-old, 1st round pick in 2018 draft, fifth NFL season (all with Seahawks)

Career Stats: 37 games played, six starts, 280 carries, 1,572 rushing yards, 11 rushing touchdowns, 5.6 yards per carry (YPC), 23 catches, 206 yards receiving

Penny, the most seasoned veteran in the Seahawks’ current squad of running backs, spent much of his career under Carson’s wing and learned from the now-retired Stau.

Penny ended 2021 on one of the best stretches in the NFL, rushing for 671 yards and 6 touchdowns in the Seahawks’ last five games. His 6.3 YPC average for the season was the best grade in the league with Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen

Like Carson, Penny has struggled with injuries throughout his pro career, having not yet played a full season. Penny has only played 37 of a possible 65 regular season games.

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That being said, given his years of experience as a player under Carroll, he should have an early advantage over rookie Kenneth Walker. Penny arrived at training camp healthy in late July and likely sees the big opportunity he has ahead of him to land the starting job for the Seahawks.

“Rashaad is in great shape,” Carroll said of Penny after the first practice session at camp. “He weighed 237 just sleek and sharp and fast and excited because he’s had such a great off-season. He looked great. He couldn’t wait to get out of here and just run. He just wanted to show us that he can walk. He looked the same as he did when we finished, so it was really fun to see.”

Penny is on a one-year contract and is certainly under pressure to deliver and stay sane over a full 17-game campaign.

Background: 21 years old, 2nd round pick in 2022 NFL draft, 1st NFL season

Career statistics (college): 32 games played, 480 carries, 2,794 yards rushing, 35 rushing touchdowns, 5.8 YPC, 19 catches, 136 yards receiving

Walker, the second running back selected in the 2022 NFL Draft, finished sixth overall in the 2021 Heisman Trophy pick and was among the nation’s most prolific rushers for the Michigan State Spartans.

Given the investment the Seahawks have in Walker as a second-round draft, he should get plenty of opportunities in training camp as he learns Waldron’s plans.

“He’s got real quicks,” Carroll said of Walker after Day 1 of training camp. “His outburst and his speed, that’s documented, you can see it and he’s feeling good. It’s going to be a fantastic opportunity to see these guys play. It takes more than one… That’s a good positional group for us.”

Walker will benefit from exactly what Carroll said above since 99% of NFL teams need more than one running back. Whoever is designated as the starter, the other defender likely won’t be far behind this No. 1 guy in contacts and could even pass the other depending on injuries and/or matchups.

DeeJay Dallas and Travis Homer will also be in the carry mix this season, especially if either of the guys listed above get injured.

Homer, both former Miami Hurricanes, has 64 carries over the past three seasons, while Dallas has 67 in his first two NFL seasons with the Seahawks. However, Homer and Dallas will make their most important marks on special teams.

Verdict

This position will evolve throughout the regular season, and don’t be surprised if two or even three different players sign up for the running back this season.

Week 1 will likely see more carry from Penny and he should be on the field on September 12 for the team’s first offensive game against the Denver Broncos.

That being said, Walker should be getting a heavy workload in at least one of the preseason games and could earn the job with strong training camp and mastery of the playbook.

Ultimately, Walker could end the season with more carries due to durability issues with Penny. Another prediction: Don’t be surprised if the Seahawks take a flyer on a veteran running midseason like they’ve done in years past with the likes of Adrian Peterson and Alex Collins.

Given the uncertainty at the quarterback position, both Penny and Walker should be featured early and often on the Seahawks offense this season.

https://www.king5.com/article/sports/nfl/seahawks/who-should-be-seahawks-starting-running-back-2022-nfl-season/281-c71d5479-1c15-4027-b4d6-e602b4d652c7 Who should Seahawks’ starting running back in 2022 NFL season be?

Alley Einstein

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