RENTON — The good news for the Seahawks running back position Tuesday?
Projected starter Rashaad Penny was back at practice, going full speed — at one point ripping off about a 40-yard TD run — after missing time last week with what coach Pete Carroll called at the time “a little bit of groin tightness.”
The bad news?
Rookie Ken Walker III was nowhere in sight, with Carroll saying later that Walker missed practice because he’s “got a little hernia thing that he’s working on. And we’ve got to get through that.”
Carroll elaborated that it’s unclear if the injury is serious.
“I don’t know what to tell you yet [about the severity],” Carroll said. “But it’s something that we can attend to and all that, and we’ve just got to make sure that he’s OK by the opener is what we’re shooting for.”
And any mention of a hernia injury for any player — but especially skill position players — is potentially ominous.
One reason the Seahawks drafted Walker 41st overall and made him the second running back taken is the durability he showed during the 2021 season at Michigan State when he finished fifth in the nation in carries with 263.
Seattle took Walker to add a complement and backup to Penny for the 2022 season and a potential No. 1 back in future years, knowing at the time that Chris Carson was unlikely to return. The team released Carson with a failed physical designation in July due to a neck injury.
Walker, who has had a solid camp, got the start in the preseason opener Saturday against the Steelers with Penny out and had 19 yards on five carries. He also had one reception for 11 yards and a kickoff return for 22 more. It’s unclear if he was injured in the game — he played until Seattle’s final possession of the first half with 12 snaps overall.
Travis Homer and DeeJay Dallas played most of the rest of the way, each performing well — Dallas had 73 yards on 10 carries and a reception for a 17-yard touchdown from Drew Lock, and Homer had 41 yards on four carries and two receptions for 33 yards.
Seattle has two other running backs on its roster in second-year player Josh Johnson and veteran Darwin Thompson.
Jake Curhan out with back spasms; Abraham Lucas works with ones
Another new injury worth monitoring involves right tackle Jake Curhan, who sat out Tuesday with back spasms.
That had rookie Abraham Lucas, a third-round pick out of Washington State, working throughout practice with the No. 1 offensive line.
Curhan and Lucas have been locked in a battle for the right tackle spot. Curhan got the start against the Steelers.
However, Lucas got most of the snaps in the game at right tackle. After Curhan played the first two series at right tackle, Lucas played the rest getting 52 overall. Curhan, meanwhile, spent most of the rest of the game playing right guard.
Lucas played well, getting the third highest-grade from Pro Football Focus of any Seattle offensive player at 81.5, with a particularly strong run blocking grade of 81.8, the area of his game many figured would take the longest to develop given that he played in a spread and pass-centric system at WSU.
After Tuesday’s practice, Carroll praised the play of Lucas saying: “What was really exciting was to see Abe on the backside, Abe had some dominant blocks on the backside. I think he had three takedowns and blasted the linebacker coming up on the second level, which was really nice. It was really good stuff, but it was not different than what we’ve seen.”
Curhan’s absence Tuesday figures to mean Lucas will start Thursday against the Bears with a chance to grab a firmer hold of the starting job.
The rest of the starting offensive line remained as it has throughout camp — Charles Cross at left tackle, Damien Lewis at left guard, Austin Blythe at center and Gabe Jackson at right guard. Phil Haynes started in place of Jackson in Pittsburgh, but Jackson was back with the starters Tuesday.
Carroll calls J.J. Acrega-Whiteside intriguing prospect
J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, acquired in a trade Monday with the Eagles for defensive back Ugo Amadi, took part in practice Tuesday wearing No. 82.
And while the Eagles were trying him at tight end, Arcega-Whiteside will be back at receiver with the Seahawks. He was moved by Philly after three disappointing years in which he made just 16 catches for 290 yards after being taken 57th overall out of Stanford — just before the Seahawks took DK Metcalf at 64.
Carroll said of Arcega-Whiteside: “This is a guy we really liked coming out. He’s an aggressive catcher. A contested catch guy is what we really liked about him, so strong and physical. He made a lot of big plays. He was a go-to guy in the program at Stanford. He’s unique. He’s a big strong kid. He was 225 [pounds] coming out and he’s like 230 now. He was playing some tight end for them, which we like all of that, that diversity. I’m always looking for unique guys and this guy brings something possibly unique.”
Carroll said Arcega-Whiteside got about five plays in practice Tuesday.
“I can’t tell you anything but knowing who he is, he’s got terrific hands, got great catching range, and he’s a physical kid,” Carroll said. “He admits that he had to learn a lot about blocking, which makes him better, and our guys, all guys, have to block. A matter of fact, our receivers blocked really well this weekend; not always finishing on the guys, but they were really trying hard and really gave great effort. And he’s going to have to fit into all that and he’s had some backgrounds here to help.”
— Receiver Freddie Swain, who missed the Steelers game with a back issue, was back in the lineup Tuesday and generally working as the third receiver with the starters alongside Metcalf and Tyler Lockett.
— Receivers Dee Eskridge and Marquise Goodwin were in helmets but did not take part in team drills. Carroll said Eskridge, who has not practiced in team drills since the first day of camp July 27 due to a hamstring issue, will not play against the Bears.
Carroll said of Eskridge: “He’s really close, he’s doing more every day. He was really out there in practice some today. He took some walk-through reps. He had an MRI that really supported that he’s almost back. I don’t know what that means, but I need to see him run full speed and the trainers not worry about it. He’s not quite there yet, but again, this week, he’s not going to play in this game.”
Of Goodwin, Carroll said: “He’s doing well, I talked with Marquise today, and he’s doing well and feeling good about it. Again, we’re looking for the opener, see if we can get him ready for it.”