Time to open up the Seahawks Twitter mailbag, with questions this week about Rashaad Penny and the running back corps, Josh Gordon, Ben Burr-Kirven and more.
Let’s get to it:
@briguyisfly asked: “Where would Rashaad Penny fit back in the running back rotation when he returns from the IR?”
Answer: This is a really good question. First, though, a point of clarification — Penny is on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list and not injured reserve.
By being on the PUP list, Penny can return to practice anytime after six weeks, meaning the week of the Arizona game Oct. 25. This also holds true for defensive end Darrell Taylor, tight end Colby Parkinson and defensive back D.J. Reed.
But they don’t have to return to practice that week. In fact, the window to return is open from Week 6 to Week 11. Once a player returns, they can then practice for three weeks before the team has to make a decision on their status — meaning, they either go on the 53-player roster, they’re waived or they go on injured reserve.
That means the Seahawks can play all of these decisions out into December if they want.
Coach Pete Carroll hinted strongly at that in the case of Penny when he talked to the media via Zoom on Monday, saying, “We’re not going to rush him” while reiterating that Penny is doing well in recovering from the injury suffered last Dec. 8 at Los Angeles.
As the question alludes to, Seattle has a full backfield already with Chris Carson, Carlos Hyde, Travis Homer and DeeJay Dallas.
Seattle would have a tough time adding a fifth running back to that mix on a 53-player roster, especially having Nick Bellore at fullback (for those who ask about Bellore, he’s second on the team in special teams snaps and has five special teams tackles already).
But, one reason Seattle loaded up on running back depth this year was to try to avoid what happened at the end of the 2019 season, when Carson, Penny and C.J. Prosise all were injured and Seattle had to bring back Marshawn Lynch and Robert Turbin for the playoffs, while also knowing that Penny would miss the first half of the season while recovering from an ACL injury.
While no one is hoping for an injury, they are a reality of the position — both Carson and Hyde have already suffered injuries this season.
So, at the moment I don’t think Seattle has any specific thought on how it will make room for Penny, instead thinking a spot may be created along the way. For now, they’ll just focus on getting him ready for when that may happen.
What if everyone stays healthy and Week 12 or 13 arrives and they have to make a call on Penny?
Well, Carson isn’t going anywhere. Dallas and Homer are key parts of the future, and I don’t think they’d risk exposing either to waivers. If Hyde is healthy and contributing, I think they’d want him for depth, anticipating a long playoff run. So maybe they take from another position — which is a little easier to do this year with expanded practice squads and ability to elevate two players each week — to fit them all in.
@Gingerwhiskrs asks: I thought DeeJay Dallas was amazing when he was on the field. Will we see more of him in the future?
A: If by future you mean the 2021 season and beyond, then undoubtedly you will.
If by Sunday against the Vikings, that likely all depends on the health of Hyde, who is dealing with a shoulder injury.
If Hyde remains out, Dallas is one of the three running backs in the rotation with Carson and Homer. I think you’d likely see him play about the same as he did Sunday.
Sunday against Miami, Carson played 35 of 63 snaps, Homer 17 and Dallas 11.
Homer saw a lot of his action on third down, while Dallas filled in a little bit here and there and got two carries for 8 yards and two receptions for 15 more. Dallas also played well on special teams with 16 snaps, and a tackle on a punt that pinned that Dolphins deep in the third quarter.
To reiterate a point made earlier, the Seahawks are definitely playing for the long haul here and will try to keep everyone as fresh and healthy as possible hoping they are playing into February.
That’s part of why I think you’re seeing Carson’s snap counts down a little bit this season and why you could keep seeing some of Dallas.
Obviously last week Carson was coming off the injury and Seattle was also rotating more than usual to account for the heat. Still, Carson has not played more than 65% of snaps in any game this season after playing 76% or more of the snaps nine times a year ago.
This is a Super Bowl-or-bust season for the Seahawks, which is worth remembering in assessing every personnel move Seattle makes. The goal here is to have the best team possible for the playoffs, something the Seahawks felt wasn’t the case a year ago.
@HSINZ57 asked: Any plans for BBK? So curious to see him get PT. Really miss preseason games for this one reason.
A: I got several questions about Ben Burr-Kirven, so I’ll use this one to address it.
Seattle has had some noted injuries at linebacker, and because Burr-Kirven — the former University of Washington standout — plays linebacker, it’s natural to wonder how he fits in.
Burr-Kirven, though, plays the inside spots — he’s listed third at weakside linebacker behind K.J. Wright and Jordyn Brooks.
It’s really just a numbers game there right now. The team is obviously never going to just take Wright or Bobby Wagner off the field. When Bruce Irvin got hurt, the plan was to start Brooks and play Wright some at strongside linebacker. When Brooks was hurt last week, Seattle decided to start Cody Barton at weakside and play Wright at SLB, and then inside some in nickel packages (Barton’s 24 snaps almost all came in the base defense).
Obviously, that implies Burr-Kirven is behind Barton on the overall linebacker depth chart. But that’s really no surprise given how the two were used last year.
Seattle is now talking to Mychal Kendricks, and if he signs, that will make it that much harder for Burr-Kirven to get on the field on defense.
But, Burr-Kirven remains a really key part of special teams — and that’s something that shouldn’t be discounted too easily. Burr-Kirven is tied with Bellore for the second-most special teams snaps at 76, and while he hasn’t recorded a stat yet, the special teams units have been a pretty underrated factor in the 4-0 start. Consider that Seattle’s average drive start this year is the 31.9, according to Pro Football Reference, while opponents have started at their 20.
That’s a lot of extra yards gained along the way, and as a member of basically every special team, Burr-Kirven is playing a role in that.
Question: What’s the latest on Josh Gordon, and do the Seahawks need him?
A: I’m condensing that as a question asked in various ways by several people.
There is no real “latest” at the moment. The Seahawks are waiting for the NFL to make a decision on his request to have his indefinite suspension lifted. Until the NFL announces something, there isn’t much to report — the league doesn’t say when it will announce something of this nature, it’ll just happen and everybody will have the story all at once.
It’s worth remembering there’s no guarantee the NFL simply lifts the suspension.
The league could at that point set a specific limit of more games, as it did with Antonio Brown. But obviously Seattle’s hope is that the suspension will simply be lifted and Gordon can practice and play.
Seattle is getting solid play out of its receiving corps, but the team could pretty easily find room for Gordon.
Specifically, the obvious move at the moment would be with Penny Hart, who has been the fifth receiver the past three games but has played just 10 snaps. So, switching him out for Gordon would be an easy call (though it’s also worth remembering Phillip Dorsett II is on IR and could come back after the bye, though the team can also leave him on IR).
But for now, the Seahawks have to wait to get a call from the league.