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One Major Question: Can Travis Homer carve out a role in 2020?

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NFL: San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Over the next couple of months leading up to training camp, we’ll pose and attempt to answer one major question for Seahawks roster favorites and contenders. First up, a contributor from the 2019 rookie class.

A sixth-round pick in 2019, Travis Homer was limited almost entirely to special teams through the first 15 weeks of his career, as Chris Carson, Rashaad Penny, and C.J. Prosise were featured in the backfield.

Once injuries struck down all three tailbacks within three weeks, however, Homer took on an important role while splitting backfield duties with Marshawn Lynch. In four games, Homer flashed the potential and upside that was hoped for after his selection.

In the passing game out of the backfield, Homer was intelligent picking up rushers before releasing into the flat or upfield to give Russell Wilson a checkdown option. He had a strong awareness of when to look back towards his quarterback and even more so picking up blitzes. As a prospect, Homer had the traits to suggest he could become a solid passing down back as a pro, and in limited action, he proved as much.

As a runner, Homer was absolutely electric. Seattle’s coaching staff deserves credit; they showed a greater understanding of Homer’s skill set and how to maximize it in four games than they had with Rashaad Penny in two seasons. The Seahawks constantly got Homer running to the outside, where he could plant his foot and explode upfield. On carries off tackle or to the outside, Homer averaged a superb 7.3 yards per carry.

While it was a small sample size, in December and January Homer proved he could be a capable member of a backfield moving forward. But will he get that opportunity?

Though Carson is recovering from a season-ending hip injury, he is reportedly on track to be ready for Week 1. Carlos Hyde, signed last week, will also be ready for Week 1 following offseason surgery. Together, those two bruisers will take the bulk of the early-down work—with Penny set to figure into the equation when he returns from a knee injury.

That will leave Homer in competition with DeeJay Dallas to man the third down role, with the odd-man-out likely to be limited to just special teams, barring injury. Though Dallas’s long-term future should be as an every-down back, in the short-term he’ll present a stiff test for Homer. Already, Dallas is a more polished receiver despite limited college production through the air. More importantly, he’s going to be excellent in pass protection from day one. Homer is intelligent and willing as a blocker, but Dallas is a cut above in that vital area.

Whether Homer is able to beat out Dallas for snaps on offense or not in 2020, he’ll need to continue to be a core special teamer to bring value to the roster, especially once Penny returns. As Homer proved both on special teams through the first 15 weeks of the regular season and then forced into duty on offense over the final month, whatever is needed from him he can do. We may not know what the role will be until September approaches, but it’s difficult to bet against the sophomore finding a spot for himself after a do-it-all rookie year.