_With Seahawks training camp set to kick off later this month, Seahawks.com is taking a look at 12 of the team's most intriguing storylines, position battles and players heading into the 2020 season. Today we look at running back and how free-agent signing Carlos Hyde might fit into the offense, and tomorrow we'll turn our attention to quarterback Russell Wilson and if this is the year he finally gets some serious MVP consideration. _
A year ago, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll was excited about his team's one-two punch at running back with Chris Carson coming off of a huge season and with 2018 first-round pick Rashaad Penny expected to take on a bigger role in his second season.
And indeed those two were looking like quite the dynamic duo in 2019, particularly late in the season before Penny's season was cut short due to a torn ACL.
Heading into 2020, the Seahawks are counting on those to players to again be big parts of Seattle's offense, but they also added veteran running back Carlos Hyde in free agency, a player who is coming off of 1,070-yard season with Houston last year, and who gained more than 900 yards in both 2016 and 2017 as the 49ers' starting running back.
"I'm really excited about adding him to our team," Carroll said last month. "I've always loved the way he played. You guys know, you've seen him, he fits the kind of style that we love. He plays at 230. He runs this hard as he can possibly run, he's got creativity to him, he's got style. He can catch the football. He had a fantastic season last year, but he's had a lot of really good years leading up to that. We've competed against him enough—the first thing I said was, 'Finally, we get you on our side.' So we're really thrilled to have him.
The addition of Hyde is good news for Seattle's offense, which always strives to be productive and explosive both in the running game and the passing game, but the move also brings up the question of how exactly he'll fit into a backfield that includes Carson and Penny, as well as 2019 draft pick Travis Homer and rookie DeeJay Dallas.
The short answer, according to Carroll, is that competition will determine how Hyde and everyone else fit in.
"I know there's some questions, where does he fit in and all that?" Carroll said. "He fits right into the competition, I feel like I've said this a thousand times to you guys, but this is a great position for competition, and he and Chris run in similar fashion in the way that they slash and hit it. I don't know where he's going to settle in, I don't really care right now, I just know he's going to do good. And he gives us a chance to really bring Rashad back and carefully bring him back so that he's a hundred percent right and ready to go when we cut him loose."
The latter part of Carroll's answer might give the most clarity as to why the Seahawks went out and signed an established back of Hyde's caliber even with Carson and Penny already on the roster. Both Carroll and general manager John Schneider have said in interviews this offseason that Penny, whose ACL injury came in December after he had rushed for 203 yards and two scores in Seattle's previous two games, likely won't be ready for the start of training camp, and could start the season on the physically unable to perform list. Players who start the year on the PUP list have to miss at least six games, so even if Carson is ready to go in Week 1—he too finished the season on injured reserve due to a hip injury—an extra experienced back like Hyde could be needed to make up for Penny's potential absence.
And regardless of Penny or Carson's status to start the season, running back is a position where depth is important throughout the year—just ask the 2016 Seahawks who had 11 different running backs or fullbacks with at least one rushing attempt during the regular season.
If Penny isn't ready to start the season, or if the Seahawks want to ease Carson back into action when camp starts, then there's a clear spot for a quality veteran like Hyde in the running back rotation. If any when everyone's available, Hyde says he's ready to compete and show he can help the team even when that one-two punch is back to full strength.
"I'm looking forward to competing," Hyde said last month. "There's definitely going to be competition with Carson and Penny, guys who have already been there, who are already established. So you definitely got to come in and compete, you're coming in trying to take a guy's job who's already been there. Carson has been putting up a thousand yards like it's nothing each year. So it's definitely tough coming in trying to replace a guy like that, but I'm definitely open to the competition. It's not my first year in the league, I'm going on year seven, so I'm use to competing. It brings out the best in me, so I'm looking forward to it.
"Whatever it boils down to, whatever coach tells me, this is what we need you to do, I'm all for it. I'm coming in right now with the mindset of trying to be that guy, every down back, be the guy for the team."
Photos from throughout running back Carlos Hyde's playing career.