By William Odis Martin
NORWALK — Norwalk’s Rashaad Penny had a breakout performance last Sunday in his return home against the Rams, rushing for 108 yards and scoring his first professional touchdown.
The 27th overall pick in this year’s draft has been quiet all season until last week’s standout effort at the Coliseum, which put him in contention for “Rookie of the Week” for Week 10.
Penny rushed for an average of nine yards per carry Sunday. He exploded for a 38-yard gain on a play that looked like it was going to be a loss in the backfield. He has now accumulated 254 yards on 54 carries all season.
It is week 10 and the Seahawks have played nine games now. Out of the first nine games of his career, Penny is averaging just six carries a game. The last game against the Rams in Week 5, Penny didn’t touch the ball once even though he did not appear on the injury report.
It’s hard for any rookie running back to gain the confidence and experience when trapped in a system that rarely runs the ball, but Pete Carroll finally caved and fed Penny the rock against the Rams’ leaky rush defense (ranked 24th in the league).
It was only the second game Penny reached double digits in carries and the first since Week 2. It seemed as though Carrol’s high hopes were fading week by week with his rookie’s production sinking every game, but Penny’s last performance may have proved him right by drafting him so soon into the draft when he was projected as a third rounder.
There were two games this season Penny did not get the ball. It is unacceptable in my opinion, considering that the kid is averaging 8.3 yards a catch and over 4.5 yards a carry.
Penny is exactly who the Seahawks thought they drafted, he just needs the opportunity to make the big plays, like the 38-yard shifty run against the Rams. It is ludicrous to think that he gained more yards in that run alone than he gained in six of his nine career games in the NFL after demolishing San Diego State University’s single season rushing records last season.
I understand the disappointing start may have discouraged the Seahawks to run the ball through the rookie who only managed to scrounge together 43 pathetic yards on 20 carries after three games, but I think he proved that he can breakout for the big gains that made him stand out in college.