On the one hand, I love a pre-season game on a Saturday because I don’t have to worry about work the next day and being tired from staying up until all hours of the night; but on the other hand, WAITING UNTIL SATURDAY just feels obscene to me. I WANT FOOTBALL RIGHT NOW GOD DAMMIT!
So, we had a good-news/bad-news situation this week. The bad news, obviously, is that our first round pick Rashaad Penny broke his finger in practice and had to have surgery this week to repair it. This means that he’s going to miss essentially the rest of the pre-season, which is prime development time for a rookie who we all figured would have a significant role in this offense right out of the gate.
Now, the good news is that assuming there are no setbacks, he should be ready for week 1 (or, at the very least, the first month of the season), but I dunno. I feel like the bad outweighs the good in this case. He’s not going to get this time back! Sure, he can keep his conditioning on point, and he can shove his nose in the playbook and do all that, but the best way to develop as a player in the NFL is through reps on the field.
On top of that, this injury re-opens my concern about the depth at this position. A position of tremendous need, I might add, and one where this team struggled heavily in the last couple seasons. Heading into training camp, running back was one of the positions I was most confident in on this team. That’s because we had Chris Carson back to full health and looking like a beast, and that’s because we had a bona fide first round talent in Rashaad Penny, who had never really shown a proclivity to being injured in college. Beyond those two guys, we had a winner-takes-all grudge match among the 3rd down backs, as well as a guy in Mike Davis who’s probably the most reliable, dependable workhorse of the bunch (whose spot was far from guaranteed until this injury cropped up).
When you take out one of the top two guys, things get a lot more tenuous. Chris Carson was already the leader of the pack heading into the second game of the pre-season, but now his importance is amplified tenfold. He’s also someone – based exclusively on what happened in his rookie season a year ago – I have very little confidence in staying healthy. That could’ve been just a freak injury, or it could’ve been a sign of things to come; we have no idea, and that unknown is what scares me the most. Beyond him, C.J. Prosise is obviously a walking injury bug waiting to strike, so even though he might have the talent to be an every-down back (should the unthinkable happen ahead of him on the depth chart), there’s no WAY I’d be confident in him being available. And J.D. McKissic is a good player, but he’s not my idea of someone who would succeed with runs inside the tackles.
That leaves, again, Mike Davis. At this point, I think he’s a guy you HAVE to keep on the 53-man roster, when we get to the cut-downs. I don’t think he has the dynamic play-making ability of the guys ahead of him in the position room, but behind what’s looking like an improved offensive line, I think he’s good enough to be a 1,000-yard back in this offense, which is all I’m asking for at this point.
So, all in all, kind of a bummer of a week, but not as bad as it could’ve been. In all likelihood, Penny will make a full recovery and he’ll start out as this team’s backup to start the season. If he can stay healthy from here on out, he should have plenty of time to catch back up during the regular season. At least it’s not a knee, or a quad, or a hamstring, or a shoulder, or a head, or a toe, or literally any other body part. Fingers heal. Broken fingers can still be played with. This is fine, everything is fine, I’m fine. Let’s all go about our business and enjoy our Friday.