Seahawks got some answers at running back but raised more questions

FOXBORO, MA - NOVEMBER 13: C.J. Prosise /

The Seahawks answered a few big questions last night at running back but wound up with even more questions. We’ll go down to the wire for answers.

The Seahawks came into their third preseason game with a lot of questions about their backfield. When will Rashaad Penny look like a first-round draft pick? Can C.J. Prosise ever stay healthy? Who’s the third-down back? Basically, can the Hawks trust anyone to split time with their workhorse, or will they have to turn Chris Carson into the new Shaun Alexander? There are two answers to that question. The first is, please God, don’t kill him. The second is yes, they probably have someone. Probably.

First, the good news. Make that really good news. Seattle ran for 185 yards, and that’s with Carson with three carries. That equals162 non-Chris Carson yards. That, my friends, is a very good thing The Seahawks had no less than seven players pick up at least 20 yards. 55 of those yards came from their quarterbacks, also a good sign. That’s still over 100 yards on the ground from people not named Carson, Wilson, or Smith (Yes, Geno Smith looked sharp).

So the rushing attack looked good, even without the QBs. C.J. Prosise led the way with 32 yards on five carries. Therein lies the first big question: can the Seahawks count on Prosise? As my compatriot Lee Vowell wrote, the three-year veteran really scrambled the picture at running back. I agree with Lee, that Prosise made the roster with his performance, with one addendum. He has to show the same ability against the Raiders, and stay healthy.

As I said, Chris Carson only got three carries, because he’s got nothing to prove. He still proved he’s Seattle’s best back, picking up 23 yards. The rest of the running backs were average at best. Travis Homer had 27 yards on nine carries, so did nothing to separate himself from the crowd. Veteran J.D. McKissic added 20 on six attempts and another 11 yards on 3 catches. Again, not bad, but nothing special. Based on this game, Prosise is the third-down specialist.

The real concern is Rashaad Penny. He did bull his way into the endzone with a strong second effort, which was great to see. Like McKissic, he had three catches, in his case netting 15 yards. I’m sorry, but 22 yards on eight carries doesn’t excite me. I’ve been on the bandwagon for Penny since he was drafted, but so far, he has yet to make the second man miss. Far too often, he isn’t even making the first man miss.

It’s true, Penny is often running behind the Seahawks second-string line, but he’s going against the second and third-string defense in those instances. So far this preseason, Carson is averaging 6.0 yards per carry. Penny is averaging 1.8 yards on 20 carries, with seven yards being his longest run. He’s done an awful lot in the offseason to improve but at this point, I can’t see Seattle giving him the ball nearly as much as I envisioned just weeks ago.

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So we’re left with two questions for the last game of the preseason. Can Prosise stay healthy and put up good numbers again? And can Penny put up good numbers just once this preseason? He needs to show he’s at least as good as he was last season. Because right now, he looks about as effective as Eddie Lacy. And that, as you know, wasn’t very good.