RENTON, Wash. — It’s not often that Doug Baldwin heaps praise on a rookie who’s been a teammate on the Seattle Seahawks for less than six months.
But ask Baldwin about rookie running back Chris Carson, and the compliments start flying.
“A lot of young guys come in and they’re young. They have a young mentality. They’re just kids. It’s OK because they are kids,” Baldwin said. “But he is a professional, I guess that is the best way I can describe it. He’s a professional. He has shown us nothing short of professionalism since he’s been here. The way he runs the ball, the way he catches the ball, the way he blocks, the way he picks up his assignments, it doesn’t matter what it is, he’s just on top of his game. It’s a beautiful thing to watch, especially for a young kid coming in.”
For the second time in three years, the Seahawks are on the verge of watching an overlooked rookie running back develop into their primary ball carrier. Two years ago, it was Thomas Rawls emerging after Marshawn Lynch was sidelined by an injury.
Now it’s Carson, a seventh-round pick out of Oklahoma State, taking advantage of his opportunity. Carson had 20 carries for 93 yards rushing in Seattle’s 12-9 win over San Francisco last week while Rawls continued to work his way back from a high-ankle sprain and had his carries limited against the 49ers.
It’s not clear how the Seahawks will break down carries this week against Tennessee. Rawls is expected to be without restrictions, coach Pete Carroll said. The Seahawks also want to find a role for Eddie Lacy as their bruising back running between the tackles, especially after Lacy was inactive for last week’s game, raising questions about his long-term future with Seattle.
But it’s clear Seattle believes it has found something special in Carson and doesn’t want him derailed after a promising debut.
“I think we can have very high expectations for Chris’ play,” Carroll said. “He has shown us and now that we have looked at him all through camp and all of that and nothing has changed in his style of approach, his toughness and all of that. Everything he has done has been very, very consistent.”
Carson was taken with the 249th overall pick in last spring’s draft. His college numbers never stood out. Carson was a serviceable college running back playing in Oklahoma State’s spread offense.
But his stature and style fit what Seattle wanted. He is a smooth runner with the speed to get to the edge and agility to make defenders miss. But he’s also stout enough to run through tackles and make extra yards.
Carson still has areas to improve upon. He missed chances at two big runs against the 49ers by not spotting the correct hole in the defense. But he earned enough trust to be on the field for the final drive and to be largely responsible for running the final 4:47 off the clock in a one-score game.
“I knew I was going to play, Did I know I was going to be finishing it off in the fourth quarter? Nah, I didn’t know that. I knew that when my number was called, I was going to be ready,” he said.
This week will reveal more about Carson’s role going forward since Rawls will not be limited and Seattle says it wants to find a spot for Lacy.
“He’s the real deal. I’ve been telling you all that since training camp. He is the real deal,” Baldwin said. “There is an aspect to him mentally that you don’t find in football players. It’s very hard to find that aspect mentally in football players and Chris Carson has it. He’s going to be a phenomenal running back in this league for as long as he wants to be. He can take this as far as he wants to.”
NOTES: TE Jimmy Graham (ankle) did not practice Wednesday and his status for the week is still uncertain. Carroll said Graham has had the same injury in the past but the team will have to wait and see. … LB Terence Garvin (shoulder) was expected to get limited work in practice after missing last Sunday’s game.