Pete Carroll Believes Seahawks RB Corps Will Be ‘Very Competitive’ Group
With training camp officially underway, the Seahawks participated in their first practice of the summer on Wednesday and it appears there will be plenty of competition in the team’s backfield over the next month.
After selecting Miami’s DeeJay Dallas with their second of two picks in the fourth round of the 2020 NFL Draft, the Seahawks also signed veteran Carlos Hyde to a one-year deal to provide additional depth at running back. Even though third-year pro Rashaad Penny has been placed on the PUP list, with Chris Carson and Travis Homer returning, the Seahawks currently feature an extremely deep group of ball carriers.
Considering the amount of talent each of these players possesses, finding consistent playing time for each of them will likely prove to be an exceedingly difficult decision for coach Pete Carroll and his staff. With that said, the oldest head coach in the league was very impressed with Homer’s performance as the team’s primary running back late last season and raved about his dedication on the special teams unit as well.
“[Travis] Homer had a really good finish to our season. He had a really good year on special teams, showing his competitiveness and his toughness,” Carroll mentioned. “But when he got a chance to play late in the year, he did really well.”
After registering just one carry in Seattle's first 12 games, injuries to Carson, Penny, and C.J. Prosise left Homer as the only healthy running back in a Week 16 loss to the Cardinals. Even with Marshawn Lynch crawling off the couch as a reinforcement, the rookie performed well starting in the season finale against the 49ers, finishing with over 90 all-purpose yards.
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, training and conditioning over the offseason became extremely difficult for every player this spring. But for someone entering his second year in the league, Homer needed to find a way to overcome those challenges and work on his craft during his downtime.
Thanks to his mental toughness, the 22-year old running back has arrived to camp in fantastic shape and he’s looking much stronger than last season. Following this progression, Carroll is confident the former Hurricane will be able to help the Seahawks’ offense once again in 2020.
“He had an incredible offseason, he’s as jacked as he’s ever been. He’s the kind of kid that’s so tough and his mentality is so strong that he’s going to help us and he’s going to help us at the running back spot,” Carroll explained. “He’s got great perimeter speed, he’s catching the ball really well, he hits the line of scrimmage well. So, he’s there.”
Along with Homer, Carroll also believes the addition of Hyde will allow Seattle to pair him with Carson this season, providing the offense with a “downhill one-two punch” on the ground. Once Penny returns to action, the speedy ball carrier should provide the Seahawks with a good mix of different style running backs to choose from.
Considering COVID-19 wiped out OTAs and minicamp this summer, most rookies will be facing a disadvantage during this season’s training camp, especially without any preseason games being played. However, the same can’t be said for Dallas, as Carroll revealed the 5-foot-10 running back caught plenty of attention during the team's opening practice.
"DeeJay Dallas has made a really good first impression. He’s very versatile, he catches the ball well, he runs well, runs routes really well,” Carroll discussed. “He’s got a real versatility to him. I’m anxious to see what he can do. He’s over 220 [pounds], so he’s stout enough. He’s made a good first impression with us and we’re anxious to see what happens when we get into the pads.”
Along with competing against Homer - who was also his teammate at Miami - for the third-down running back role, Dallas will also compete as a kick and punt return specialist. He previously returned a punt for a touchdown for the Hurricanes, once again displaying his versatility.
Regardless of how playing time is shared, one thing is for certain: the Seahawks shouldn’t have any concerns about their depth at the running back position this season. Loaded with talent and set to get Penny back at some point during the season, the running game should continue playing a pivotal role within the offense's game plan throughout the 2020 campaign.