It certainly doesn’t come as any surprise that Eagles head coach Doug Pederson wants to make sure his quarterback that was the MVP favorite entering the final month of last season is available and playing every Sunday. He won’t always have a backup capable of picking up the slack quite like Nick Foles managed to last season.
While Wentz’s knee injury last December against the Los Angeles Rams was a rather fluke non-contact injury as he planted to dive for the end zone, he was still putting himself in a vulnerable position diving headfirst between a pair of defenders. Wentz did take numerous shots last year and has the mobility to create yards on his own when opportunities are presented to him. The trick is finding the balance of avoiding the big hits – like Russell Wilson manages to do with the Seattle Seahawks – as opposed to taking numerous shots – like Robert Griffin III did in Washington before injuries piled up.
The situation underscores the importance of durability when it comes to running backs. It starts with not getting injured. It continues with finding a way to play while injured. It’s the one thing that separated Emmitt Smith from his peers, it’s the one thing that helped Lynch be who he was in the Seattle offense, and it’s the one thing the Seahawks need from 2018 first-rounder Rashaad Penny.
“It was an important element in his makeup and background,” coach Pete Carroll told reporters regarding Penny’s durability.
The Seahawks are confident in Penny’s durability at the next level, even though he wasn’t exactly a workhorse in college. Though he had 289 carries in 2017 (for 2,248 yards and an average of 22.2 carries per game), Penny had only 136 attempts in 2016 (for 1,018 yards and 9.7 carries per game), 61 in 2015 (4.3 carries per game), and only two as a freshman in 2014.
“He’s had a couple years of production,” G.M. John Schneider told reporters. “He had 1,000 yards last year. That’s not a concern at all. He had some really interesting analytics and stats about him with durability, run after contact, run after first contact. He actually, of this group [of running backs], was number one in both categories.”