Seahawks' Carroll praises growth of rookie RB Kenneth Walker III: 'I'm surprised he's so well-rounded'

Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll is known for his overflowing optimism in nearly every circumstance. So it's rarely noteworthy when the coach gushes about a player.

But Thursday's assessment of rookie running back Kenneth Walker III's growth -- particularly as a blocker -- hit a new octave.

"You talk about surprises, I'm surprised. I'm surprised he's so well-rounded," Carroll said of Walker, via Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times. "A runner, he's blocking. Again I think I mentioned it the other day, but his pass-protection stuff, he just turned the page (from college). I mean, he was not very good in college as a pass protector, and we didn't know. But Chad's (Morton) done a great job with him and Amanda (Ruller), they've worked really hard with him, so it's important. But I think for this kid, everything is important. He wants to be great, and he's not going to let any stone be unturned. So, I'm really excited to see how he goes. He's going to get some good playing time in this game and get him comfortable with the speed of the game and all of that. I expect him to do well."

Carroll's glowing comments on Walker came the same day Rashaad Penny was sidelined with groin tightness. Walker is likely to start Saturday's preseason game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Entering the draft, Walker was viewed as a bulldozer who could break tackles and turn a 2-yard gain into an 8-yard push. He rushed for 1,636 yards and 18 touchdowns in 2021 at Michigan State. But there were questions about his pass-catching abilities, having caught only 19 balls during three seasons in college.

Carroll specifically noting Walker's improved blocking is huge for the rookie's playing time. It's the aspect most first-year backs struggle with. If Walker continues to impress Carroll in that area, his reps will only increase.

"He could play all three downs, and we'd feel comfortable with it," the coach said.

Penny's injury history suggested Walker would see a sizable role as a rookie. Carroll's comments only work to cement that belief.

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