Sports

Seahawks running back Penny has ‘bad’ lower left leg injury

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Seattle running back Rashaad Penny left the Superdome field sitting on cart with his left shoe off and a grim expression on his face, aware that his season could be in jeopardy.

One week after his best performance his season, Penny was forced from Sunday’s game against the New Orleans Saints with a lower left leg injury that Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said would make it “very tough to get him back.”

“I don’t want to make a statement until we get all the MRIs and stuff, but he’s got a bad injury,” Carroll said following his team’s 39-32 loss to the Saints. “We give you more information when we know all the facts.”

Penny, who’d broken off a 32-yard run in the first quarter and finished with 54 yards, was injured while being knocked out of bounds by defensive end Marcus Davenport and linebacker Kaden Ellis at the end of a 6-yard run early in the third quarter.

“It’s a setback that breaks my heart,” Carroll said. “He has emerged and showed us the great player he is. He has put so much into it and cares so much about it. It’s tough to have it taken away when this happens.”

Penny, a first-round draft pick of the Seahawks in 2018, enjoyed the best stretch of his career at the end of last season. He set a career high with 170 yards against Detroit on Jan. 2 and broke that mark with 190 yards the following week against Arizona, finishing the year with a personal-best 749 yards and a 6.3 average per carry that was the best for any running back with more than 350 yards.

His 151 yards on 17 carries in a victory at Detroit last week gave him five 100-yard games in his past nine as he finally had a healthy stretch in an injury-plagued career.

He suffered an ACL tear against the Raiders in December of 2019 that kept him out of the final three games that year and the first 13 games of 2020.

Seattle quarterback Geno Smith, who threw for 268 yards and three touchdowns, called Penny’s injury “extremely tough.”

“Penny’s my brother, man. I love him to death,” Smith said. “Gosh, I hate that for him. I know how hard he’s worked. I know how much he’s put into this. It sucks, man. We need him out there. He’s a leader for our team.”

Seattle will turn to backup Kenneth Walker, a rookie second-round pick out of Michigan State.

Walker gave the Seahawks a 32-31 lead when he raced untouched through a gaping hole for a 69-yard touchdown with 6:54 left in the fourth quarter.

The Saints responded quickly, however, with a 60-yard touchdown on a designed QB run by Taysom Hill. The Seahawks did not recover, fell to 2-3, and now will have to try to bounce back without Penny.

Walker entered the game with only 58 yards on 15 attempts this season. In addition to his touchdown against the Saints, he had seven other carries for a total of 19 yards.

“I’m ready,” Walker said. “I feel real comfortable in the offense and the scheme. I pretty much felt comfortable after training camp. It’s tough (losing Penny). We didn’t talk much about it, but he told me on the sideline to run hard and read my keys. He’s been like a big brother in the (running back) room to me.”