Carroll: Chris Carson is his clear lead back. OK, so will Seahawks give Carson more carries?

Pete Carroll on Doug Baldwin’s status next couple weeks, review of Seahawks’ opening loss at Denver

Coach Pete Carroll discussing the injury status of Pro Bowl wide receiver Doug Baldwin, his review of Seahawks’ opening loss at Denver.
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Coach Pete Carroll discussing the injury status of Pro Bowl wide receiver Doug Baldwin, his review of Seahawks’ opening loss at Denver.
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RENTON

Doug Baldwin is likely to be out at least a couple of weeks.

Will Chris Carson remain mostly absent from the Seahawks’ main offense, too?

Coach Pete Carroll confirmed Tuesday Baldwin has “issues” with his medial collateral ligament in his right knee and is going to miss games, starting Monday night when Seattle (0-1) plays at Chicago (0-1).

“It could be a couple weeks, then we’ll find out,” Carroll said of Baldwin and the knee he injured getting rolled up on from behind by others at the end of a play in the first half of the 27-24 loss at Denver Sunday. “He’s as tough as they come. We have to wait. He’s got some stuff; he’s getting some science back. We’ll find out in the next couple days what that means.

“He’ll be able to get back from this, yeah. He’ll come back from it. It just depends. We’ve got to see it through. It’s really early in the year. We’ve got to take care of him, look after him first and foremost, and then we’ll only do what he’s capable of doing—when he gets the OK from the docs.”

To add a fifth healthy wide receiver to the active roster, the Seahawks signed Keenan Reynolds off their practice squad. They waived the former Navy star quarterback at the end of the preseason then signed him to the practice squad last week. He has yet to appear in a game in three years in the league.

As for Carson’s disappearance, Carroll reiterated the 2017 seventh-round draft choice who was the starter as a rookie last season until a broken leg is the clear lead over rookie first-round pick Rashaad Penny.

And the coach acknowledged the obvious from the opening loss in Denver: Carson needs more than seven carries in 57 offensive plays.

Penny had seven carries, for 8 yards.

Carson and Penny each played 25 snaps.

“Chris, I thought, really took the lead in the position after that game,” Carroll said.

“Right now — they are going to alternate, Rashaad and him, we are going to keep working those guys and seeing what they can do.

“But Rashaad needs to get back and, I think, primed up like he was about a month ago.”

Lead running back Chris Carson talks after the Seahawks’ opening loss at Denver on the need for the offense to run the call better. But how about simply running the ball more?

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Seattle with new offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, who directed the NFL’s top rushing team with the New York Jets a decade ago, called 14 runs and 43 passes last weekend in Denver. And that was in what was never more than a one-score game.

On a third and a half yard in the third quarter, Schottenheimer had quarterback Russell Wilson roll out right and throw to the tight end. Nick Vannett was wide open about 10 yards downfield, but Wilson’s throw sailed about 5 feet over Vannett head incomplete to end that drive.

That was part of the Seahawks going 2 for 12 trying to convert third downs in Denver.

From the third quarter into the fourth, the Seahawks called for passes on nine out of 10 plays. That included Wilson throwing an interception at his own 35-yard line that Denver converted into a field goal, and Wilson throwing a 51-yard touchdown pass to wide-open Tyler Lockett. That briefly gave Seattle a 24-20 lead it could not hold.

Down 27-24 and facing third-and-3 near midfield after a 5-yard pass to Carson, Schottenheimer called another roll-out pass. Wilson ran left, then felt pressure and tried to extend the play. He turned right—and right into waiting All-Pro edge rusher Von Miller. Miller engulfed Wilson for a 13-yard sack.

That happened with 9 minutes remaining. In the final two drives, the Seahawks called one run. Penny lost 2 yards on first down, and that was that for Seattle running the ball Sunday.

Of the 14 called runs at Denver, Carroll said: “Not enough. Not enough.”

“We were behind in the game, but that was not the reason. The reason was we didn’t convert on third down,” Carroll said. “It’s just football: 2 of 12, that leaves you where you don’t get your next series when you don’t convert. There were four third-and-5 or lesses that every one of those should have been conversions. That changes the complexion of everything about the game and the play calling and all that.”

Assessing Carson and Penny individually, Carroll said: “Chris looked really good. Did what he could with the plays he had.”

Put another way: Shouldn’t a guy who can do this get more than seven rushes?:

Seahawks running back Chris Carson made this remarkable leap over Broncos defensive back Bradley Roby in the middle of a run around right end Sunday in the season opener at Denver. Carson got just seven carries among Seattle’s 57 offensive plays last weekend. Tuesday coach Pete Carroll confirmed the obvious: Carson needs the ball more.
David Zalubowski, Associated Press

“Rashaad looked a little rusty, to me,” Carroll said. “And I visited with him about it. You know, he really only had one good week of practice coming back (from surgery last month for a broken finger). And it wasn’t enough. He needs more work. He wasn’t as responsive as he has been, earlier on, before he had to sit out for a while.

“We will work him in. We love the chance of getting him in there. We’ll keep looking for it.”

Penny said he felt “as confident as can be” one week back from the surgery to repair the finger he broke pass blocking in practice following the first preseason game..

“I mean, I felt like I matched the same speed as all the other guys. It’s just all about executing,” Penny said. “That’s the part for me I’ve got to get back used to doing. Just feeling the game flow.

“Like any other back, when you have a good running back ahead of you (the rotating he did) has to be expected. You’ve just got to come in and a play a role and do what you have to do. That goes for Coach Schotty, and the running-backs coach, as well. I think it’s all part of their plan.”

Rookie running back Rashaad Penny talks about his first NFL game, and his role behind Seahawks lead back Chris Carson.

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Against Chicago Monday, expect that plan to be different than what played out in Denver. Expect Carson to get far more carries than Penny—and far more than seven total rushes in the game.

That is, if the Seahawks want to slow down Bears All-Pro pass rusher Khalil Mack, make him read run keys and play more honestly than solely targeting Wilson all over Soldier Field. That’s what Miller and the Broncos did in the second half in Denver, and ended up with six sacks in all and the win.

“We didn’t run the ball well enough to offset their rush,” Carroll said.

Carson said Sunday in the locker room following the loss in Denver: “We really get going when we have both going for us. When the run game and the pass game is going, it’s hard for defenses to stop us. As soon as we become one-dimensional, it’s easy for us to get stopped. When we are not running the ball well, it puts all the pressure on Russ. We can’t do that. We’ve got to get better at that.”

Better at simply running the ball, period.

Through all they need to improve, the almost-always sunny-side-up Carroll talked to his changed, younger Seahawks following their opening loss about the positives. Specifically, about the position they were in early in the fourth quarter: with the lead, on the road against a Denver team that has lost only one home opener in the last 18 years.

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“After all of the stuff we just talked about—and I went through the same thing with the club—we were ahead in the fourth quarter ready to take the game over in a very difficult situation,” Carroll said. “And there’s something about that that we need to understand. We had a chance to hang in that game because of the plays that we made. There is so much good, and there is so much we have to clean up and get better. We came out of it with an understanding of that.

“And now we have to get that done.”