New Birds RB: Fresh Scenery, New Start Best For Me
At his introduction Thursday, new Eagles running back Rashaad Penny more resembled a menacing linebacker than ball carrier, sporting his rocked-up physique.
While the 27-year-old certainly looks the part – and has appeared dominant in enigmatic spurts – his volatility has served as a roadblock, obstructing his pathway to prominence.
Penny has missed 37 games in four seasons – 15 in the past two – and most recently endured an extended absence from a season-ending broken fibula, which prematurely ended his 2022 campaign after only five games.
The injury-plagued running back, who signed a one-year prove-it deal, viewed the fresh start in Philadelphia as the quintessential opportunity to revitalize his once-promising career that’s shown glimpses of high-level production.
“I feel like it’s a great place to refresh, restart my career,” Penny said. “And I’m just excited to be here and I can’t wait to get to work. Playing with a finalist MVP at QB, great running back room, great weapons at receiver, and obviously, arguably the best O-line. So, I’m definitely excited to get to work.”
Refresh was the word most commonly used throughout Penny’s availability, as it seems a new beginning and scenery change would benefit both him and the Seahawks, who had selected Penny in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft.
While Penny acknowledged an unfamiliarity with the Eagles’ offensive infrastructure, he also conveyed an unwavering confidence in his ability in complement the team’s high-octane offense.
“I feel like I’m a more of a slasher,” Penny said. “I run hard, but I really try to run past people, because I feel like that’s what I could do too, as well. So, just try to tie my game into being more power and setting guys up to run past ‘em.”
“When healthy” has been the operative term throughout Penny’s career, but the San Diego State product has been an asset when on the field – averaging more than six yards per carry twice in his career and owning a hefty career average of 5.7 yards.
A five-week run to close out 2021 perhaps best demonstrated Penny’s impact, when he accumulated 671 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns on 92 carries.
If the 27-year-old is able to rewrite his narrative in Philadelphia, a healthy Penny – running behind a league-best offensive line – would almost surely produce a career season.
“I feel really great,” Penny said. “I just feel like 17 games is really important to me, and I know in my right mind that being here and being an Eagle – great strength and training staff, great coaches – they all take great care of their players here. I’m excited to be here and expect big things.”
In conjunction with third-year pro Kenny Gainwell, Penny – a 5-foot-11, 220-pound bulldozer – brings a largely absent power-rush dimension to the team’s backfield.
Penny plans on making the most of his new opportunity, his sights set firmly on the future rather than his injury-riddled past.
“It’s tough, but this is like a restart to me,” he said. “That was the past and I’m looking way far ahead of that. This is big for me. Like, I’m really excited to be here. I’m healthy now, and I’m really ready to go.”
– Andrew DiCecco (@AndrewDiCecco) is a Staff Reporter/Content Producer for InsideTheBirds.com.
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