RB Rashaad Penny injured in light Seahawks practice. What that means for Sunday vs. Saints

Rashaad Penny got a walkthrough?

Coach Pete Carroll said his running back whose darting touchdown last weekend in Pittsburgh showed why the Seahawks drafted him in the first round last year injured his hamstring during Friday’s light, no-pads, no-helmet practice.

The team added Penny to its injured list as questionable for Sunday’s home game against the New Orleans Saints.

“Penny came up a little bit today, so we held him back a little bit. He’ll wind up on the injury report with a hamstring,” Carroll said following the 90-minute work on final touches for the game.

“We’re putting him down as questionable until we know more. Just happened about 20 minutes ago.”

The common term “walkthrough” practice for Friday workouts is a little misleading. The players do run, through plays and down the field on special teams. But it is the second-lightest practice of any Sunday game week, behind Saturday’s final gameplan review.

Penny was catching kickoffs as usual at the beginning of this latest practice.

If Penny can’t play, C.J. Prosise moves from third-down running back to the number-two rusher behind Chris Carson.

Prosise played in the 2-minute offense last weekend in the win over the Steelers. And, more telling, the 2016 third-round draft choice who has had 10 injuries in three-plus years with Seattle did not get hurt.

“C.J. is ready to go. He’s been practicing great,” Carroll said. “He’s done well when we put him in. He can’t wait to get more reps.

“So, if he gets a chance to play, we won’t even hesitate to have him mix into all that. He’ll go right with the guys.”

Penny had a game-high 62 yards on 10 carries in Pittsburgh. He did something Carson did not do: hold onto the ball. Carson lost two fumbles that directly led to two Steelers touchdowns.

Penny’s 37-yard touchdown run was the beautiful result of halftime adjustments he and offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer made.

It became the best 15-minute intermission Seattle has had since the last time they had the irresistible halftime dog races at CenturyLink Field.

Penny’s halftime study was the key reason why the Seahawks rallied to win in Pittsburgh for the first time in 20 years, 28-26 over the Steelers. He, Schottenheimer and the offensive staff studied the images on their Microsoft Surface tablets at halftime of Steelers linebackers shooting the inside gaps on the left side of Seattle’s offensive line on a stretch running play to the left.

“We went back and watched film,” Penny said, as he walked after the game from the locker room to the Seahawks’ team bus that was taking them to the airport for Sunday night’s flight home. “If I would have cut it back (then), it probably would have been the same result, or a good gain.”

So that’s what he and the coaches decided at halftime. Next time we run that play, Penny, expect Barron in your face after you get the hand-off and cut sharply away from him and the flow of the play, to the right.

Third and 2 at the Steelers 37, Seahawks clinging to a 14-13 lead after a Pittsburgh field goal. Wilson hands the ball to Penny. The flow of the play and the blocker go left. Sure enough, Barron reads one of the Seahawks’ pet running plays. He immediately shoots the gap. The linebacker is waiting for Penny like a high-school kid waits for a bus in the morning.

“Same exact thing. Same exact run,” Penny said. “So I said, ‘Forget. Let’s go for all the marbles here. Just make one guy miss.’”

He did.

Penny cut sharply to the right, showing the balance, agility and speed that made Carroll and general manager John Schneider trade then select major-college football’s rushing leader out of San Diego State in the first round in 2018. Wilson comically was the only man in front of Penny.

“We’ve talked a little bit about that,” Schottenheimer said Thursday.

The quarterback was a lead blocker his running back didn’t really need on his 37-yard touchdown bolt. Seattle led 21-13, and the Steelers were in scramble mode the rest of the afternoon.

“I’ve got to give my guy Russ, my lead blocker, all the credit,” Penny said, smiling after his third career touchdown.

His last was Dec. 2, against San Francisco during his injury-derailed, frustrating rookie season.

Now he’s hurt again. We’ll find out by Sunday afternoon how much.

Gregg Bell is the Seahawks and NFL writer for The News Tribune. In January 2019 he was named the Washington state sportswriter of the year by the National Sports Media Association. He started covering the NFL in 2002 as the Oakland Raiders beat writer for The Sacramento Bee. The Ohio native began covering the Seahawks in their first Super Bowl season of 2005. In a prior life he graduated from West Point and served as a tactical intelligence officer in the U.S. Army, so he may ask you to drop and give him 10.
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