Around this time last year, Chris Carson was just starting to turn heads in Seattle. After being selected with the 249th overall pick, just four picks ahead of Mr. Irrelevant, Carson proved himself to be very relevant to a Seahawks offense in need of a feature back.
During the first month of the regular season, he made waves by winning Seattle’s starting running back job and briefly looked like the answer to Seattle’s post-Marshawn Lynch running game woes.
Unfortunately, a gruesome leg injury cut his season short after his fourth game (and third consecutive start). Carson still led all Seattle running backs in rushing yards until nearly the end of the season and he finished with the highest yards per carry (4.2) for the year in a crowded tailback group.
Carson had breathed new life into Seattle’s offense, and when he went down the Seahawks felt it for the rest of the season. Now that he’s healthy, he’s ready to reclaim that RB1 role. But that competition just got a bit stiffer.
While Carson’s injury from last October is not the type to necessarily throw up a red flag on its own, he has proven to be less than durable going all the way back to his high school days with a long string of injuries keep him off of the field in just about every season since.
So it should be no surprise that the Seahawks looked to shore up the running back position during this spring’s NFL Draft. Seattle took Rashaad Penny, the nation’s leading rusher out of San Diego State, with their first round pick.
What does that mean for Carson’s prospects of regaining that starting job and how did he feel about the pick?
“I was happy,” said Carson following the end of Seattle’s OTAs. “I mean, at the same time, it was like another guy coming in to compete. When I got drafted here it was C.J. (Prosise), (Thomas) Rawls, Alex Collins, everybody. So another guy is just another guy to the brotherhood. I show love to anybody that comes in. I just wanna compete with anybody.”
As far as his health goes, Carson says he’s 100 percent and then some. According to the second-year tailback, he was close to being able to come back last season and could have made a push to return had the team made the playoffs.
Seattle head coach Pete Carroll, the founder and CEO of the Chris Carson fan club dating back to last offseason, was especially impressed with Carson during OTAs.
Asked Thursday to name a few players who have stood out from a physical conditioning standpoint, Carroll began with Carson saying “he hasn’t missed one snap of anything. He’s just looked so fit and just so cut and quick and explosive and all of that. He’s the guy that just stood out in that regard.’’ [Seattle Times]
Entering his second year, Carson has put on 10 pounds of muscle, stating that he focused on his lower body and sits at a “more solid” 227 pounds.
Carson looked like a pro back in 2015 when Mike Gundy was bragging on the incoming junior’s “12-pack”. Now the second-year pro looks more like some type of superhero.
Hoodie Chris Carson is a thing now pic.twitter.com/3iGrNl4iR6
— hawkschronicle (@HawksChronicle) May 2, 2018
The added bulk should aid Carson when it comes to trying to stay healthy, even if he had to make a sacrifice or two to get there.
“I like to eat hot wings, (they’re) my favorite thing to eat,” said Carson. “So I kinda cut back on that. And just getting a nutritionist, a meal prep. Started doing that. And my trainer, you know, he was big on protein shakes and stuff like that. I wasn’t really big on that before him but then after talking to him, I got onto that and that really helped out.”
(By the way, Chris Carson not being big on protein shakes is maybe the most surprising news coming out of Seattle’s OTAs.)
Missing a huge chunk of your rookie season isn’t fun, especially for someone who beat the odds just in making the team, much less earning starting reps.
“It makes you appreciate everything and it makes you really realize that this game can be taken away at any moment,” Carson said. “So you enjoy the time you’re out there.”
Aside from the drafting of Penny, the Seahawks brought in Brian Schottenheimer as the new offensive coordinator tasked with kick-starting Seattle’s offense and, in particular, the running game.
Whether it’s an incoming first round pick eyeing his job, a brand new offensive system to learn or his durability as a lead back being questioned, Carson says his mentality remains the same.
“My mindset is still the same way,” Carson said. “I gotta fit in, try to prove myself each and every day. You never want to get comfortable cause they’re always trying to find somebody to replace you each and every year, so I’m gonna try to improve.”