RENTON — They want more from Chris Carson.
Carson is reluctant.
The Seahawks’ third-year running back has become one of the established leaders on offense — one of the most important players on the roster — and as such coaches have nudged him to be more outgoing, more boisterous on the field and in the locker room.
Carson isn’t so sure. The running back walked off the VMAC practice field Thursday with a hood pulled tight over his head, and the idea of breaking out of his shell, figuratively speaking, doesn’t come naturally for him.
“They are asking more of that of me, but we’ll see where I go,” Carson said. “I don’t shy away from it, but my personality is more just put my head down and go to work.”
Pete Carroll was happy to see his No. 1 running back back in uniform again for the first day of training camp. Carson did not participate in offseason workouts with the team as he recovered from what he called a minor knee surgery in the spring.
“It’s great to see him back,” Carroll said. “As we have always recognized, Chris is such a well-conditioned guy. He works so hard. He’s in great shape again. He had a very, very prosperous offseason in coming in and dealing with his issue — it was a minor issue. But he’s ready to go.”
Carson declared himself 100% healthy entering camp, and he made several cuts on the handful of carries he had with the first-team offense during Thursday’s 90-minute practice.
“I’m good. I feel good. Everything’s good, man,” he said.
The offseason procedure, he said, was “just to clean out my knee a little bit — a little scope, nothing real serious.”
2018 was a breakthrough season for Carson, who rushed for 1,115 yards and nine touchdowns, making him the Seahawks’ first 1,000-yard rusher since Marshawn Lynch in 2014.
What’s Carson’s mindset as he enters his third NFL camp?
“Just competing, that’s the biggest thing,” he said. “And try to make sure everyone understands that last year wasn’t just a one-time thing, you know? I’m out here trying to get better with the stuff I didn’t do so good last year. I’m trying to complete my game.”
After a broken leg derailed his rookie season in 2017, Carson said he wasn’t surprised by his success last season.
“I knew what I was capable of. It was just a matter of staying healthy. That was the biggest thing,” he said. “This year, it’s kind of the same thing, with even bigger goals. It’s the same mindset: I just want to improve.”
As Carson recovered from surgery, Rashaad Penny got the bulk of the carries with the first-team offense during offseason workouts. At the time, Carroll raved about Penny’s conditioning and production.
Carson echoed those sentiments about Penny, Seattle’s 2018 first-round pick.
“Me and him are real close,” Carson said. “I try to give him as many tips as I can, and he does the same thing for me. It’s good. It’s great to see his growth from year one to year two. Year one, he had some injuries and some things to overcome. His confidence wasn’t there. But toward the end of the year, you saw his confidence start to grow, which is good. …
“He knows he can make the cuts that maybe he was second-guessing last year. You’re starting to see that. He trusts his speed more, and once he gets to that second level he can break away.”
Carson said he has no qualms sharing carries with Penny.
“I think we complement each other real well,” Carson said. “The media likes to tear us against each other and stuff like that, but me and him are close. We don’t pay attention to none of that. We just go out and play.”