Seahawks look to get ground game going vs. Redskins
The Seattle Seahawks are coming off a stirring comeback win -- their fourth straight -- yet not all is well as they prepare to welcome the walking wounded of the Washington Redskins on Sunday.
The Seahawks, held to a season-low 33 rushing yards on 21 carries Sunday, are ranked 21st in rushing in the NFL, averaging 97.6 yards per game.
Seattle (5-2) did a couple of things this week aimed at shoring up the offensive line and sparking the running game in particular. First, the Seahawks acquired three-time Pro Bowl left tackle Duane Brown from the Houston Texans on the eve of the trade deadline.
"He's a big, strong, smart guy that I think is really going to help our guys," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said.
Then on Wednesday, the Seahawks decided that, rather than splitting carries, it is time to make one running back the main guy, and that guy appears to be Eddie Lacy.
"We're going to start with Eddie and let him go a bit and see where it goes from there," offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell told the Seattle Times on Wednesday, remarks that were echoed by Carroll.
Lacy, signed as a free agent in the offseason, has rushed for 108 yards on 42 carries, just 2.6 yards per carry. His high carry total in a game this season is 11, which he reached twice.
A successful Lacy against Washington would take pressure off Russell Wilson. However, the quarterback thrived under pressure Sunday, earning NFC Offensive Player of the Week honors after passing for a career-high 452 yards and four touchdowns in a 41-38 win over the Houston Texans.
Washington (3-4) haven't been much better at running the ball. They are ranked 17th in the league, averaging 105.4 yards per game. They basically abandoned the run Sunday in a 33-19 loss to the Cowboys.
The Redskins started Sunday minus three starting offensive linemen and one of their top backups, then proceeded to lose two more of their front five. They are banged up on the other side of the ball as well.
Missing Wednesday's practice were linebacker Zach Brown (back), wide receiver Jamison Crowder (hamstring), defensive lineman Matt Ioannidis (hand), guards Shawn Lauvao (stinger) and Brandon Scherff (knee), center Spencer Long (knee), tackles Trent Williams (knee) and Ty Nsekhe (core muscle) and tight ends Niles Paul (concussion) and Jordan Reed (hamstring).
Four players were limited, including cornerback Bashaud Breeland (knee/groin) and running back Rob Kelley (ankle).
"Get your pens out," Redskins coach Jay Gruden cracked as he began his injury report.
Washington signed three offensive lineman last week, and the trio will at least have had the benefit of a full week of practice before Sunday.
"They're learning. It's new to them. They're playing together for the first time, really," Gruden said of guards T.J. Clemmings and Tyler Catalina and center Chase Roullier. "So it's just about communication, playing together, trying to play in unison, which is hard to do at this stage of the season, but I think (the coaching staff is) getting them ready to go."
The Redskins have lost two straight to start a five-game stretch that includes contests at Philadelphia, vs. Dallas, at Seattle, vs. Minnesota and at New Orleans.
Quarterback Kirk Cousins and the offense are averaging 357.1 yards per game despite limited production from the wide receiver position, though Crowder had nine catches for 123 yards against Dallas. Sunday will be Cousins' first experience in front of a Seattle crowd.
"I'm sure that Seattle may be even louder than anywhere else," Cousins said. "We'll be ready for it the best we can. We understand what we're walking into from that standpoint, and we know we have to communicate very well, verbally and visually, and be ready to go, from the first snap to the last."
On defense, Washington ranks slightly ahead of Seattle (allowing 322.6 yards per game to 333.7) and has at least one sack in 31 consecutive regular-season games, the longest streak in the NFL.
"Well, you've got to worry about (linebacker) Ryan (Kerrigan)," Carroll said. "He is really an effective player. He's a problem every snap, run and pass. He's such an aggressive player. That's a guy that we're really tuned in to. (Linebacker) Preston Smith has done well, too. Those guys, the edge guys, as so often is the case in the 3-4 schemes, they're really highlighted players, and they've got just what they want there."
The Redskins are 6-1 against the Seahawks in regular-season games since 2001. However, Seattle won the last regular-season meeting 27-17 on a Monday night in Washington in 2014.