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Seahawks RB competitions still unclear following preseason win over Chargers

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Los Angeles Chargers Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

The Seattle Seahawks ran the ball 36 times for 133 yards in Sunday’s 48-17 victory over the LA Chargers, a modest 3.7 YPC as a team, but not many of those carries made it obvious who the starter will be and what sort of depth they’ll end up with by Week 1.

Things opened with Thomas Rawls playing with Russell Wilson and the ones, and he finished with two carries for five yards. For now, Rawls could be a slight favorite to be the regular season starter, but Pete Carroll could even be inching towards a scenario where there is no true “starter” at the position. That being said, Eddie Lacy did little to showcase himself as a must-have option on offense.

Coming out with the twos, Lacy carried the ball four times for 10 yards. He seemed a bit slow and unable to break/force missed tackles, which is not what you want to see from a back of his size. That being said, it’s four carries in a preseason game behind an offensive line that’s still figuring out who they are.

Those two seem guaranteed to make the roster, as does 2016 third round pick C.J. Prosise, who ended up with one carry for three yards and one catch for eight. Prosise’s position may technically be running back, but he’s specifically out there for third downs and to catch passes out of the backfield, sometimes as a wideout, I’m sure. So nobody is really threatening his job because he is so unique. That being said, Chris Carson could definitely steal some third down snaps if he makes the roster because of the praise he’s been receiving as a backfield blocker.

Carson, the star of training camp, carried it seven times for 19 yards and two touchdowns, plus a 3-yard catch. Despite his 2.7 YPC, he looked about as good as advertised out there, most importantly by finishing off drives with scores — the fact that he had two one-yard touchdowns only emphasizes that his yards-per-carry tally isn’t as bad as it looks.

It’s getting harder and harder to imagine Carson not making the final roster. I don’t know if that’s as straightforward as him being the fourth running back or involves a move with Rawls or Lacy, but Carson has been the most exciting back in training camp, the best protection for Wilson in the backfield, and had a fine preseason debut. He also has four extremely cheap contract years ahead of him.

The backs who’d be left out if Rawls, Lacy, Prosise, and Carson all made the final roster include:

  • Mike Davis, who looked shifty and quick on the field with the threes and against LA’s threes. Davis finished with eight carries for 33 yards and a seven-yard reception. If he doesn’t make Seattle’s roster, he could be quickly snagged by another team. He resembles a good number three running back.
  • Alex Collins scored a touchdown but had six carries for nine yards and a big drop. He drew the equivalent of “twitter boos” throughout his time on the field, as he sort of has been dealing with since beating out Troymaine Pope for a job last season. Collins also probably wouldn’t be a free agent for long if released during cuts.
  • Tre Madden didn’t have any carries, but he did have a 51-yard catch-and-run late in the game. Not much else to say about it other than that, and the fact that he fumbled at the end of the play because a Chargers player was easily able to pop it out from behind. Luckily, it happened on the sidelines and went out of bounds. But it sort of negated any goodwill obtained by Madden up to that point.

And that’s what happened with the backs on Sunday. Still not sure who the majority ball-carrier could be, if it’s anyone. Though Carson did seem to further entrench himself as a must-keep player in September ... we just don’t know yet who that is bad news for.