Eagles Training Camp

Penny thinks he's finally figured out how to stay healthy

The Eagles' running back hopes playing at a lighter weight will help him

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He’s missed almost as many games as he’s played, and Rashaad Penny thinks he knows why.

Penny, the Seahawks’ 1st-round pick in 2018, missed two games as a rookie with a knee injury, six games in 2019 with knee and hamstring injuries, 13 games in 2020 with a torn ACL from 2019, seven games in 2021 with calf and hamstring injuries and 12 games last year with a broken leg.

He’s played 42, missed 40, and even with a 5.7 career rushing average — tied for highest in NFL history by a running back with at least 300 carries — the Seahawks gave up on him after five seasons, letting him reach free agency this past spring after paying him over $16 million since 2018.

The Eagles signed him to a one-year, $1.35 million bargain contract in March and immediately handed him over to Vice President of Player Performance Ted Rath and his staff.

They quickly figured out a game plan to try and keep Penny healthy.

“It just came down to me playing at a lighter weight and knowing that I have the potential to play all 17 games (and playoffs),” Penny said. “I don’t know if that was a big factor in my career early on, but hopefully it changes this year. So I’m excited. I know these guys care so much about (what weight) I’m playing at and how I look and I’m really praying and hoping that makes a difference and I know it will.”

Penny has averaged just 67 carries and 384 rushing yards per season. The only time he got 100 carries in a season was 2021, when he ran for 749 yards and six touchdowns and fashioned a gaudy 6.3 average — 8th-highest in NFL history by a running back and 2nd-highest in the last 50 years.

You can't question the talent.

But Penny believes playing 10 pounds lighter will help him avoid the lower leg injuries that have plagued his career.

“I was at 235, 237 in Seattle,” he said after a recent practice. “I’m about 230 right now, and we’re working to get even lower. I want to get back to being in college shape, back to 225 and just moving better. 

“Just me cutting off a few pounds from last year I just feel lighter. My ankles feel great and my knees feel amazing. … I feel great. I think Ted and just everybody from the top floor to the strength coaches do a great job staying on us about our conditioning and our weight. … I’m excited for this new opportunity.”

Penny is why teams generally don’t draft running backs in the first round. 

His 337 career carries are the fewest by a 1st-round running back in his first five seasons since Ki-Jana Carter in the late 1990s.

“I think Seattle did an amazing job with me, it just was unfortunate,” Penny said. “But here they just really care about players’ health. I think I could play 20 more years here just because of how good they take care of you and just what they do on the off days and how they structure the days just to prepare for the next day. 

“I think every day I’ve been fresh since camp started. Every day I felt better and better. I really give credit to these guys. They’re really an A-plus organization the way they take care of guys.”

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