RENTON — Kenneth Walker III had a terrific rookie season after being called upon to take a bigger role as the primary ball carrier for the Seattle Seahawks.
His rookie year was so good that right up until the point the announcement was made during the NFL Honors award show during Super Bowl week, Walker felt confident he was going to be named offensive rookie of the year.
Instead, it was New York Jets wide receiver Garrett Wilson who walked up on the stage and received the award.
“Yeah, I thought I was going to win it, but Garrett Wilson is a great player though,” Walker said Thursday after the Seahawks wrapped up their latest offseason workout.
To his point, Walker did have a rookie season worthy of being acknowledged as the best in the league. He led NFL rookies in rushing touchdowns with nine as part of a season during which he played in 15 games and ran for 1,050 yards.
Finishing second in the offensive player of the year voting became a momentary topic Thursday when Walker’s position coach, Chad Morton, ran past and jokingly yelled that Walker should have been the award winner.
Walker actually received one more first-place vote than Wilson, but Wilson had more total points in the voting.
“(I was) kind of frustrated, but it happens. I can’t make those decisions,” Walker said. “I just have to come out here and do my best and get better.”
Last offseason, Walker was focused on learning after being drafted by the Seahawks in the second round and he leaned heavily on Rashaad Penny to help him in pick up Seattle’s offensive system.
Now Walker is the one passing on information after Seattle added a few more bodies to its running backs room by drafting Zach Charbonnet in the second round and Kenny McIntosh in the seventh.
“I just hope I can be a mentor to the running backs that are younger than me, like Rashaad was to me,” Walker said. “I just hope I can guide those guys in the right direction.”
Walker saw first-hand the importance of having depth in the backfield last season as he was thrust into a starting role after Penny was lost to a season-ending lower leg injury after Week 5. With the additions of Charbonnet and McIntosh, and veteran DeeJay Dallas, the Seahawks feel there is a good variety of styles and skills in their offensive backfield.
“I think this is a great time of the year for all of the running backs to continue to develop a wide variety of skills when you don’t have the pads on,” offensive coordinator Shane Waldron said. “We are not going live in the run game so to speak, so the more that you can do and the more that you can develop a wide range of skills for those guys, I think will be beneficial.”
Tariq Woolen watched Thursday’s workout following surgery to repair a cartilage issue in his right knee last week. Coach Pete Carroll said the second-year cornerback noticed something felt amiss in his knee and that eventually led to the decision to have surgery.
Woolen is expected back in four to six weeks.
The Seahawks expect linebacker Jordyn Brooks (ACL) and safety Jamal Adams (quadriceps tendon) to be in attendance at minicamp next week. Carroll said the team will likely have a better timeline for their return to the field early in training camp.