Rashaad Penny has been quiet for most of the season, but the rookie tailback had his first career 100-yard game in the Seahawks' 36-31 defeat to the Rams.
LOS ANGELES — Seahawks running back Rashaad Penny went from bust to busting out in about 10 minutes against the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday.
Okay, so maybe that’s overstating it. No player should be judged on just eight NFL games.
But until Sunday at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, the first half of Penny’s rookie season had not gone the way anyone anticipated it would when Seattle surprisingly drafted him in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft last April, making Penny the second overall tailback selected.
Unfortunately for both the Seahawks and the rookie, Penny suffered a finger injury in the preseason that derailed his progress.
So even though Seattle has boasted a resurgent running game this season, Penny hadn’t done a lot to contribute to that with just 146 yards on 42 carries, an average of 3.5, in the first eight games.
But with Chris Carson unable to play due to a hip injury that also held him out of the second half last week, Penny was called on once again.
And this time, as coach Pete Carroll said, “he looked just like the guy we thought he would look like when we drafted him’’ in helping spark a Seattle offense that rushed for 273 yards in a 36-31 defeat to the Rams.
Penny, who notched the first 100-yard rushing performance of his carer and finished with 108 yards on 12 carries, also had a career-high 38-yard run the first time he touched the ball — his previous long was 15. In his first pro appearance in his home state, the Norwalk, Calif. native then followed that with an 18-yarder for a touchdown that put Seattle ahead 14-7.
Penny also added another 24-yard run in the third quarter to spark a drive that put Seattle ahead again, 21-20.
“You can do it,” Penny said later of what he told himself before and during the game. “That’s something I told myself the whole game, just thinking in my head like, ‘You can do this. They trust you.’’’
Penny said what was different was that he showed more patience, letting the plays develop, knowing he’d get another shot.
“I think that was the most important thing for me,’’ Penny said. “I kind of worried about two or three plays ahead instead of the one play that I needed to focus on. Now I’ve just got to find my groove and I think I am more ready.’’
Carroll gave Penny a public vote of confidence this week, knowing that he might be needed due to Carson’s situation, and couldn’t have seemed more pleased to see that faith fulfilled.
“Today he busted out,’’ Carroll said. “We’ve been challenging him to get right and to work at the right tempo and find what it’s like to be a pro, just teaching a young guy trying to figure it out… I thought today he needed it so badly. He knows he’s a great player. He just hasn’t been able to demonstrate it.’’
Penny said he likewise felt the breakthrough was coming, even if it was hard to see last week when he had just 11 yards on four carries against the Chargers.
“I feel like I’ve grown up the last two to three weeks,’’ Penny said. “I have to say once my opportunity comes, just go all out and ball.’’