The Seahawks Rashaad Penny is taking some big steps on his own to meet the high expectations of a first-round draft pick.
When the Seahawks drafted Rashaad Penny in the first round of the 2018 draft, it was more than a little surprising. Seattle hadn’t draft a running back in the first round since they were in the AFC. That sounds like a joke, but the Hawks drafted the great Shaun Alexander in 2000, two years before they moved to the NFC. Penny’s season was considered disappointing by most. He’s taken a couple big steps on his own to make big improvements in his game this year.
First, Penny hired a nutritionist. As Liz Mathews reported for the USA Today’s Seahawks Wire, Penny came into OTAs this year under 230 pounds. As Penny himself said, he’s learning what it means to be a professional athlete. A big part of that is taking care of your body.
"“Over the past few months and this offseason, I’ve just started taking everything seriously by treating my body right and doing the little things. Also, I think what helped me was losing all that extra weight. Now I feel better. I don’t have all those nagging injuries."
So Penny is in better shape now. That’s a great first step. I see the next step as even more telling. Since January, Penny has been meeting twice a week with another former San Diego State alumnus. This guy isn’t just another Aztec; he’s Hall of Fame running back Marshall Faulk.
Matt Calkins reported in the Seattle Times that Penny and Faulk have been meeting via FaceTime to watch film, discuss plays, and even look at what other positions key on. Penny said that concept came from Faulk. When a guy with a 100 career touchdowns and over 19,000 total yards gives you advice, you listen.
It’s terrific that Penny is doing all this. But before you judge Penny’s first season too harshly, let’s look back at Alexander’s rookie campaign. The man who would run for 1880 yards in one season started his career slowly.
Alexander played in all 16 games in 2000 but had just one start. He had 64 carries for 313 yards (4.9 yard average) and two touchdowns. He added five catches for 41 yards. Total scores: two. Total yards: 354. Those numbers don’t exactly scream first-round pick, do they? Yet Alexander ran for over 9,000 yards after his rookie year.
Compare that to the rookie year of Rashaad Penny. He played in 14 games with no starts, and had 85 carries for 419 yards (coincidentally, a 4.9 yard average). Penny added 9 catches for 75 yards. Total scores: two. Total yards: 494. He returned eight kicks for 140 yards as well. No, Penny didn’t have a spectacular rookie season, but that doesn’t mean he can’t step up his game.
In his rookie year, Alexander was stuck behind a pretty good player, Ricky Watters. Penny of course tried to play catch-up to Chris Carson. A big difference is that was the last good year for Watters, while Carson has quite a few ahead of him – we hope. It’s going to take a huge effort for Penny to move to number one in the Seahawks depth chart this year – but at no one can say he isn’t doing all he can to get there.