RENTON -- Rashaad Penny is frustrated too.
Fans of the Seattle Seahawks have been understandably irked that Penny -- a first-round pick of the team in 2017 -- has been unavailable to play so frequently due to injuries. A calf injury is the most recent ailment that has kept Penny sidelined. The injury surfaced coming out of the team's season opening win over the Indianapolis Colts and led to a stint on the injury reserve list. It's the latest in a string of unfortunate injuries for Penny that have kept him from being able to play for much of the last two seasons.
"I'm just happy to play football again," Penny said Friday. "I really try not to get hurt. I prepare the right way to do everything right."
Penny was just starting to round into form before a torn ACL in December 2019 served as a major setback. He'd rushed for 129 yards and a touchdown in a victory over the Philadelphia Eagles the last week of November. He followed it up with 74 yards and a touchdown the next week against the Minnesota Vikings.
Then Penny's knee gave out. On his only touch of a game in Los Angeles against the Rams, Penny's left ACL gave out and ended his season. The injury would ultimately keep him out throughout most of last season as well as lost essentially a full calendar year to the injury. He played sparingly in the last three games of the season with just 38 total snaps played.
"Last year was pretty hard for me going with the ACL and trying to recover and just do everything I can to get back and play football," Penny said. "I think that's the whole moral of it just me being on the field and being available and I haven't been that."
Penny had a cleanup procedure on his knee this offseason and came into training camp lighter and in better shape than in previous years.
“I feel 100 (percent)," Penny said during training camp. "This is the lightest I’ve ever been. I feel very explosive. Honestly feel like I’m back in high school again, like, I feel way faster."
Then the calf issue came against the Colts and Penny was back on injured reserve yet again.
"I really don't go out there to just miss games," Penny said. "I don't come in here to miss games, miss practice. I really try to be available but sometimes your body just says no and unfortunately my body has been saying no to me a lot."
Penny has practiced the last two days with the Seahawks after being designated to return from the injured reserve list. With Chris Carson on injured reserve due to a neck issue and Alex Collins a bit banged up coming out of last week's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the opportunity is there for Penny to put himself back in the mix with Seattle.
"I’m really excited to get Rashaad on the field and playing for us," head coach Pete Carroll said on Thursday. He’s gunning to go, he’s ready, this is the right time for him to come roaring back, and I’m hoping that he will have a chance to be a big factor in the game."
Penny said he felt as though he could have played throughout his stint on injured reserve but said it was best for him to get back to 100 percent. He feels like he's there and is eager to get back playing again.
"I'm ready to go," Penny said. "I'm revved up. I'm excited."
Penny is in the last year of his rookie contract with the Seahawks after they declined to pick up his fifth-year option this spring. Penny wants to be in Seattle for the long term but knows he has to show that he's capable of playing well consistently and being a regular in the lineup for that to be a possibility.
"I think I've got enough games to prove what I can do," Penny said. "Like I said, it's just all about me being available. Being available and being consistent. ... I feel like it's just a slow start for me. I'm still young, I'm fresh and I'm ready to go and now is the chance for me to show it."
Photo Credit: SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - DECEMBER 02: Rashaad Penny #20 of the Seattle Seahawks breaks a tackle against Eric Kendricks #54 of the Minnesota Vikings in the fourth quarter during their game at CenturyLink Field on December 02, 2019 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)