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Chris Carson is off to a strong start in 2020... as a receiving back

New England Patriots v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

Coming off a season-ending hip injury, Chris Carson hasn’t had the best of starts when running the ball this season. Through two games he’s rushed for just 93 yards on 23 carries and has had only one carry of 10+ yards.

However, the fourth-year Seattle Seahawks running back has found his footing via the passing game.

Carson has amassed nine receptions (on nine targets) for 81 yards and a team-leading three touchdowns. He’s already hit his career-high for receiving touchdowns, and he’s done it on a play-action bootleg, a screen pass, and a wheel route.

This is an extraordinarily small sample size, but Carson would be well on course to have career highs in receptions, yards per catch, and he’s already met the touchdown mark as I said earlier.

What’s more important to me is not the volume of targets but rather his efficiency. Four of his nine catches have gone for first downs/touchdowns, compared with the 10 out of 37 he caught the previous year. It’s also worth noting that his aDOT (average depth of target) is thus far 1.2 yards beyond the line of scrimmage, compared to the -0.8 last year. I imagine the Patriots touchdown skews this a bit, but it’s highly encouraging that he’s even being targeted as a downfield option.

There are running backs who can catch passes and there are legitimate receiving backs. Christian McCaffrey and Alvin Kamara are both excellent receivers in addition to being standout runners. I’m not going to use two games to get my hopes up that Carson is going to magically morph into that level of play, but his early success as a receiver adds another dimension to this passing offense and adds another problem for defensive coordinators to solve.

I can’t run this piece without acknowledging that this is a contract year for Carson and he’s well aware of the deals that Joe Mixon, Dalvin Cook, Alvin Kamara, and Derrick Henry have already gotten. Whether or not the Seahawks want to give him in the range of $12 million per year is a story for another time, but the case in favor of re-signing him sure could be boosted by making himself a viable dual threat.