Chris Carson arrived in Seattle as a seventh-round pick, the last player the Seahawks selected in the 2017 draft and the fifth-to-last player taken overall, No. 249 of 253 players drafted. Yet despite his rather humble NFL beginnings, Carson was able to not only win a spot on Seattle's 53-man roster, he also became the Seahawks' starting running back after rushing for 93 yards on 20 carries in a Week 2 victory over the San Francisco 49ers.
But just when it looked like Carson was headed towards a big rookie season, things took an unfortunate turn in Week 4 when he went down with a leg injury that landed him on injured reserve. Carson nearly made it back late in the season, but a setback in his rehab caused him to finish the year on IR.
Carson is now fully healthy once again as he prepares for his second season, and having missed most of his rookie season to injury, he is appreciating the opportunity in front of him now more than ever.
"It makes you appreciate everything," he said. "Just being out on the sideline for how long I was, it makes you appreciate everything. It makes you realize this game can be taken away at any moment so you enjoy it while the time you're out there."
And Carson isn't heading into his second season with any change in his mentality just because he tasted some success as a rookie, rushing for 208 yards on 49 carries in three-plus games.
"I still got the same mindset," said Carson, who estimates he put on about 10 pounds of lower-body muscle in the offseason. "My mindset is 'Steady Hustlin,' so I always want to come out and prove somebody wrong, because me being a seventh-round draft pick, a lot of people passed you up, so you want to come out there and prove a lot of people wrong. My mindset is still the same way, I got to try to fit in, try to prove myself each and every day. You never want to get comfortable because they're always trying to find somebody to replace you each and every year."
Carson will have his work cut out for him if he's going to be Seattle's starting running back again in 2018. Mike Davis and J.D. McKissic played well in Carson's absence, the Seahawks drafted Rashaad Penny in the first round, and C.J. Prosise is hoping to show what he can do when he's healthy.
"It's a really cool group," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "… It's going to be a really exciting group, and what I'm anxious to see is the versatility show up, because they're very well-rounded players. They all can catch it and block and run, run inside and run outside, it's a real nice mix. All those guys could be third-down backs, and that's really rare that would have that on a team, because they can all catch the football really well."
But while there will be a lot of competition at running back, Carson has done plenty to stand out in the very early stages of that competition.
"What has really jumped out is Chris Carson," Carroll said when asked who has stood out in offseason workouts. "Chris has looked incredible the whole time, the entire offseason. He hasn't missed one snap of anything. He just looks so fit, he's just so cut and quick and explosive and all that. He might be the guy, when you look at everybody, who jumps out in that regard.
"He has just had a great offseason. He was really frustrated about not being able to finish with us last year, and he put it to work. He did it. I'm excited to see how he goes. He's going to play really good for us when we get back."
As for the Seahawks drafting a running back in the first round, Carson understands why people would like to know his opinion on the selection of Penny, but he wasn't upset about that move. Rather, he embraces the idea of making that position group deeper and more competitive.
"I was happy, but at the same time it was like, 'OK there is another guy coming in to compete,'" Carson said. "When I got drafted here it was C.J., (Thomas) Rawls, Alex Collins, everybody, so it's another guy, another guy to the brotherhood. We show to love to anybody that comes in that wants to compete with anybody."
The Seahawks wrapped up Organized Team Activities (OTAs) on Thursday, June 7, and Phase 3 of the team's offseason workout program will conclude next week with a three-day mandatory minicamp at Renton's Virginia Mason Athletic Center.