With training camp approaching in the coming weeks, the Seattle Seahawks will have some tough decisions to make as they work on cutting down their 90-man roster to just 53 players.
Unfortunately, that means that at least a handful of established veterans could be losing their roster spots before the start of the 2022 season. According to Alex Ballantine with Bleacher Report, one Seahawks veteran firmly on the roster bubble is running back Chris Carson.
“If Carson can heal in time to get cleared for the season he faces a lot of competition for touches,” Ballantine said. “The NFL is a hard business. That’s especially true for running backs. It feels like the Seahawks have already replaced Carson whether he can play or not. The team will save $4.6 million if they release the veteran back.”
The Seahawks already have a handful of pro-caliber running backs on the roster, so Carson will be facing an uphill battle if he’s not fully healthy and able to compete during training camp and in the preseason.
Chris Carson Has Been a Thrilling Player When Healthy
It’s unclear if Carson’s career is coming to an end after a neck injury has led to some concerning images showcasing the hardware put into his neck. However, even if his career is almost over, Carson has been a key contributor in Seattle’s offense over the years.
The 27-year-old was a JUCO player before transferring to Oklahoma State and playing his final two college seasons under head coach Mike Gundy. He wasn’t a workhorse in either season for the Cowboys, and despite efficient rushing numbers with 6.8 yards per carry in his final season, Carson wasn’t selected until the seventh round of the 2017 NFL Draft.
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Carson emerged as the starting running back for the Seahawks as a rookie, but suffered a fractured ankle in October that prematurely ended his season. Once he was healthy, Carson burst onto the scene over the next three seasons, playing in 41 games while rushing for 3,062 yards and 21 touchdowns over that span.
After a solid start to the 2021 season and 232 yards and three scores in his first four games, Carson was placed on injured reserve with a neck injury. That injury has still kept the veteran running back sidelined heading into 2022 training camp, with head coach Pete Carroll sounding less than optimistic about Carson’s NFL future.
“It’s just hard on him,” Carroll told reporters during offseason workouts. “We’re going to love him through it and help him as much as possible if that’s the case, like we do with everybody when it comes to the end of it. It’s inevitable. It’s coming. But it’s always too soon. We’re trying to fight that off and he knows that. He’s battling.”
Who Will Replace Chris Carson If He’s Cut?
If Carson can’t get medically cleared to return to the team, the Seahawks still have a couple of players who can step up in his absence.
Rashaad Penny is likely to be the starting running back in Week 1 after a very efficient 2021 season. Despite only playing in 10 games, Penny ran for 749 yards and six touchdowns while averaging an impressive 6.3 yards per carry. As the team’s first-round pick in 2018, expectations will continue to be high for Penny this season.
Rookie Kenneth Walker III will be competing with Penny to try and carve out his own role in the offense. Walker was a second-round pick out of Michigan State after winning both the Walter Camp and Doak Walker awards for college football’s player of the year and best running back after rushing for over 1,600 yards and 18 touchdowns.
There are a few other running backs heading into training camp hoping to snag a spot on the final 53-man roster, but if Carson is ultimately cut, Penny and Walker will be expected to have a big impact in 2022.