Seahawks’ Kenneth Walker III cleared for NFL debut vs. 49ers

RENTON — Seahawks rookie working again Kenneth Walker III has been given clearance to play Sunday in opposition to the 49ers in Santa Clara, California.

And with that, perhaps the Seahawks can start to see the 1-2 running-back punch of Walker and Rashaad Penny they envisioned from the day Walker was chosen with the forty first total decide — the second working again taken— within the NFL draft in April.

Walker has been sidelined since mid-August due to hernia surgical procedure. He performed in Seattle’s preseason opener at Pittsburgh on Aug. 13 and mentioned Friday that the damage developed after that recreation — he had surgical procedure the following week.

“It was real sudden,” Walker mentioned. “They told me it was something to take care of early. So I’m glad it happened before the season.”

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll held out hope that Walker may play Monday evening in opposition to Denver, however the crew determined to err on the aspect of warning.

Now that appears like an particularly prescient determination, as a result of Seattle defeated the Broncos and might unleash the contemporary legs of Walker on the 49ers and complement Penny, who performed 38 of 55 snaps Monday.

“We really did the right thing, we waited another week,” Carroll mentioned. “He got some good banging on it and feels fine, so he’s ready to go, and he’s safe and all of that. So I’m just really excited for him to be a contributor to the whole thing.”

Among the attributes that attracted the Seahawks to Walker was the sturdiness he confirmed at Michigan State final season when he ranked fourth within the NCAA, averaging 22 carries per recreation and speeding for 1,646 yards.

Though some questioned the Seahawks’ determination to draft a working again that prime, they knew Chris Carson may not have the ability to play (he has since been pressured to retire resulting from a neck damage). And with Penny’s vital damage historical past (enjoying 37 of a potential 65 video games in 4 seasons), the Seahawks wished somebody who may play quite a bit instantly if wanted.

They grew additional enamored of Walker in camp when he confirmed he may be extra ready than anticipated to be a three-down participant. They didn’t know whether or not his pass-blocking and total proficiency within the passing recreation can be ok to play all three downs, and within the third-down position if wanted.

“He was a poor pass-blocker in college, and so we didn’t know how that was going to work,” Carroll mentioned Friday.

Carroll mentioned Walker labored with running-backs coach Chad Morton at rookie minicamp in May and progressed to the purpose the place Carroll says the blocking “is not even a problem.”

“It was just a statement about his pride and how tough he is and how committed he is to being everything he can be,” Carroll mentioned. “And the rest of it is he’s got great speed, he’s extremely elusive, tremendous side-to-side ability to get away and escape. He caught the ball really well. And … you know, he’s just a tough frickin’ dude that doesn’t want to give up nothing. And so you put all that together, you got a really fine-looking guy. So we’ve been really high on him.”

Walker says of the improved pass-blocking, “You’ve just got to know what you’re doing, and then mentally, too, wanting to do it.”

Now comes the overriding query since Walker arrived: How will the Seahawks divvy up the snaps at working again?

Penny bought all however one carry in opposition to Denver, because the Seahawks had simply 13 makes an attempt by working backs out of 49 official performs. Travis Homer had the opposite.

Penny completed with 60 yards on 12 carries. But 26 got here on one carry early within the second quarter. Penny was held to 13 yards on his closing six carries within the closing 41 minutes because the Seattle offense stagnated within the second half. An obvious 23-yard Penny run within the third quarter was referred to as again resulting from a holding penalty in opposition to rookie proper deal with Abraham Lucas, which the Seahawks thought of doubtful.

Still, Monday’s recreation appeared to indicate that regardless of preseason success by Homer and DeeJay Dallas, the Seahawks plan to relay on Penny and Walker as their major ball carriers.

Homer had 19 snaps, principally because the third-down/two-minute again, and Dallas — who tied for the NFL speeding lead within the preseason — bought three (all three coming in victory formation on the finish of the sport, when Homer was additionally on the sector).

Walker doesn’t determine to right away share time with Penny, whose success on the finish of the final season (4 video games of 135 or extra yards within the closing 5) and contract — he signed a one-year deal paying him $5.75 million this yr with simply over $5 million assured — assures he would be the major ball service so long as he’s wholesome.

But a 17-game season is a problem for any NFL working again, and the Seahawks don’t have their bye till November. Penny had simply 5 video games in his NFL profession with 10 or extra carries till getting 10 or extra in every of the ultimate six of final season as soon as he was wholesome, after which one other 12 in opposition to Denver, a streak of seven in a row.

All which means Seahawks will undoubtedly search for methods to maintain Penny as contemporary and wholesome as potential, and can lean on Walker to get that executed.

It’s a prospect that excites Walker.

While pressured to observe Monday evening’s recreation from the sideline, he appeared as into the sport as anybody who was enjoying, cheering excitedly all through.

Walker revealed Friday it was really the primary regular-season NFL recreation he had seen in individual.

“Being out there in the stadium and the 12s are so loud,” Walker mentioned. “They told me about it, but being in there’s actually a crazy atmosphere.”

On Sunday he’ll get his first probability to expertise what it’s like on the sector.

“I’m just excited to go out there and play,” he mentioned. “Whatever they need me to do I want to do it.”

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