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SEATTLE – The Seattle Seahawks’ addition of Adrian Peterson in the late season could end up extending Rashaad Penny’s career in Seattle.
There’s a phrase you could not have imagined reading a month ago.
Still, there’s Penny potentially running his way toward another contract with the Seahawks as he puts together one giant performance after another, constantly referring to the influence Peterson has had since the veteran running back joined Seattles. training team in early December.
“When you have a guy who’s run in this league for so long and is on the verge of Hall of Fame,” Penny said, “it honestly gives you a boost and you want to emulate everything you see him do. “
Since taking over for Alex Collins as Seattle’s starter, Penny has delivered performances reminiscent of Peterson’s in his prime. The latest and greatest came in last week’s blowout victory over the Detroit Lions as he rushed to career-high 170 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries en route to being named NFC Offensive Player of the Week.
Penny’s topped 130 rushing yards three times in the last four weeks, the top three results of his career. His 481 rushing yards (on 69 attempts) lead the NFL in that span. His five rushing touchdowns are a draw for most, and his 6.97 yards-per-carry average is in third place.
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“He just drives with confidence,” said left tackle Duane Brown. “You can see the shift he’s had over the last few weeks. I think it’s a combination of things, but Penny has been a force to be reckoned with.”
When Penny was out for the Seahawks’ defeat Monday night in Washington in Week 12 after another injury, it looked like the tenure of one of the more disappointing draft picks from coach Pete Carroll-GM John Schneider would unreservedly end – – either on the inactive list, damaged reserve or stuck behind Collins on the depth chart.
Everyone involved says it’s no coincidence that Penny’s most recent rise came after the Seahawks signed Peterson.
It was a head-scratching move for a team that was largely out of the playoffs to pick up a 36-year-old running back. But coach Pete Carroll believed Peterson’s wisdom and legendary work ethic could spread to younger players, a projection that has proved true for Penny more than anyone else.
Carroll said the impact Peterson has had on Penny has been “sensational,” comparing it to when Marshawn Lynch returned to Seattle late in the 2019 season. That is despite a brief run on the track for Peterson. He looked good enough in his first few training sessions to play four days after signing, scoring a touchdown against the 49ers, but did not play again due to a back injury that put him on IR.
“The first thing is that they’re a little awe of him anyway,” Carroll said of Seattle’s younger players. “And so the way he worked, that’s what it was. Every step he took was full speed, flew around. And he looked amazing. And we said, ‘Holy cow,’ and he did the next thing. “and the next piece. And we only had a couple, three days of training with him. And he made that impression so quickly. It was so obvious. There’s no doubt about what happened.”
Perhaps the most notable difference with Penny, aside from production and availability, has been how much more confident he has looked as a ball carrier. He hits harder holes, breaks tackles and finishes races with authority. During the last four games, he led the league in yards after first contact per. rush at 3.77.
“You attack them before they attack you,” Penny said, reciting the advice of the hard-nosed Peterson who has stuck to him the most. “So it’s always just in the back of my mind.”
Penny has received 12-plus carries six times since the Seahawks drafted him as the 27th overall in 2018. That reflects how often he has been injured and how he has spent much of his career playing behind Chris Carson, who went down in October with a season-ending neck injury. But in all six games, Penny has topped 70 rushing yards and averaged at least 4.9 yards per game. carry, and he has scored nine touchdowns in total.
Maybe it should not be so much surprising that he produces like this, but that he has been available to do so. Before his rise began last month in Houston, Penny had missed 30 of a possible 64 games (including the playoffs) due to an injury. It includes a torn ACL in late 2019.
Any discussion about the possibility of the Seahawks signing Penny when his rookie contract expires after this season comes with the qualification that it should be a low-risk deal that gives them ample protection in the event of multiple injury problems.
Either way, they’ll probably have to add another running back – ideally in the draft – whose durability is beyond doubt. Otherwise, they would put themselves in the precarious position of counting on Carson as he returns from a neck surgery and / or Penny with his extensive injury history.
Collins, who went on IR, is also a free agent at the end of the season. Seattle currently has Carson, Travis Homer and DeeJay Dallas under contract in 2022.
If the running back market is anything like it was last offseason, it might not be that expensive to re-sign Penny. Carson, who has had much more production and better availability than Penny, got a two-year deal averaging $ 5.2 million with $ 5.5 million guaranteed.
If the price is right, then why wouldn’t the Seahawks take a fly on Penny to see if he can continue his recent rise?
What he has done over the past few weeks does not confirm Seattle’s decision to take over Penny over Nick Chubb, a three-time Pro Bowl pick and a player that many in the organization preferred in 2018. But it does confirm what the Seahawks so in Penny – and what they can continue to see from him after 2021.