Through the first two weeks of the 2017 NFL season, rookie running backs across the league have looked to cement their name as the starter for their respective team. We have seen Kareem Hunt tear up defenses with the Kansas City Chiefs, Dalvin Cook look like the convincing replacement of Adrian Peterson with the Minnesota Vikings, Leonard Fournette do all that was expected of his high draft choice with the Jacksonville Jaguars, and then there is Chris Carson in Seattle. Carson has had a much different path to the top of the depth chart than Hunt, Cook, and Fournette have.
Carson was the Seahawks seventh round draft pick in this year’s NFL draft from Oklahoma State. Carson was so grateful for the opportunity to be drafted, especially considering he was not even the starter on his college team. He knew his roster spot was not guaranteed so he would have to work harder than he ever has to gain his playing time. Many were confused with the Seahawks choice of Carson, with the already crowded backfield of Thomas Rawls, Eddie Lacy, and C.J. Prosise they were already working with. Carson was an absolute standout at training camp and throughout the preseason for Seattle. He worked harder than anyone else on the team to preserve his roster spot, after a strong showing of 102 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries in four preseason games with the Seahawks. He gained the praise of head coach Pete Carroll multiple times in the off-season for his surprising strong start to his rookie season. Carson made the final roster for Seattle as the final running back on the depth chart.
Week one was miserable for Seattle in Green Bay while taking a 17-9 beating from the Packers. Rawls was out with an ankle he had sprained weeks before in the preseason. Eddie Lacy got the start, but was not effective at all gaining three yards on five carries against his former team. Lacy was clearly not an option for a starting and every down role for Seattle. Prosise is typically only used on passing downs and as a third down back. Seattle struggled to block all game, but found a lone bright spot in the offense when Carroll gave Carson a few carries early in the second half. He carried the ball only six times gaining 39 yards including a long 30 yard run. Carroll hinted at that maybe Seattle had found something positive with Carson in the run game despite losing so badly.
Week two was another struggle for Seattle’s offense in the first half. Seattle struggled again to find many key blocks to open up holes for runners. Rawls was very ineffective with only four yards on five carries with Prosise still working his third down back role and Lacy being inactive for the game. Once Seattle got their first touchdown on a Russell Wilson pass to Paul Richardson, they knew they were going to have to be able to run the ball to hold onto the lead. Carroll had finally decided he had seen enough of Rawls and was bound to give the rookie Carson a chance to run with the first team. Carson lived up to Carroll’s expectations, running all over the 49ers defense in the second half for 93 yards on 20 carries while ultimately sealing the Seahawks 12-9 victory over San Francisco. Carson gained a few key first downs on Seattle’s final drive to run out the clock. He is currently the NFL’s seventh leading rusher with 132 yards on 26 carries without even starting a game. That is very impressive from any player, let alone a rookie playing his first few career games.
Chris Carson may be the Seahawks’ answer to their offensive problems. Everyone knows the offensive line play is bad and probably will continue to be that way all season. The Marshawn Lynch power running back days are over in Seattle. Carson has decent size at 5’11”, 218 pounds, who runs with a physical style of running over defenders combined with good speed in the open field. He is a reliable every down back who can carry the ball 20-25 times a game with effectiveness. He also protects the ball, with no fumbles coming on his 212 carries at Oklahoma State. Carson continues to gain praise from teammates like Doug Baldwin and the coaching staff for his professional approach to the game, which is a rare quality to see with younger players in the NFL. The Seahawks may have found something special in a young player that could fix their offensive struggles and return them to their usual dominant status in the NFC. Carson looks to be the starter for this week’s contest at the Tennessee Titans, so he will have another chance to prove his doubters that he may be a rookie, but his hype is for real.
If you would like to receive an email each time a new Seattle Seahawks article is published, fill out our email notification form.