Jamison Crowder out, plus other things to watch for Sunday
SEATTLE -- A clarification came Saturday: Wide receiver Jamison Crowder did not travel with the Redskins to Seattle because of his hamstring injury. He is out for Sunday’s game against the surging Seahawks, just another name on the list of Washington injuries.
A few things to note early Sunday morning in the cool, damp and raw Pacific Northwest:
-- Crowder appeared last week to finally get going. His 123 receiving yards against Dallas account for 45.2 percent of his total receiving yards this season. Strangely, he is yet to score. So, last week’s work appeared to be a boon for him and the Redskins until he was shut down this week because of the hamstring injury. That means more opportunity for Ryan Grant against one of the league’s best secondaries. Washington will also have to find another punt returner to replace Crowder. Perhaps Kendall Fuller.
-- Left guard Shawn Lauvao is out. Center Spencer Long and left tackle Trent Williams were listed as doubtful in the most recent injury report. Best-case scenario is that Brandon Scherff plays at right guard, giving the Redskins two of their five starting offensive linemen. Even if Scherff plays, he and Morgan Moses (two sprained ankles) will not be 100 percent. Which leads to an extrapolation. If the Redskins can’t protect Kirk Cousins long enough to let deep routes develop, will they be able to take advantage of All-Pro free safety Earl Thomas not playing for the Seahawks? Replacing Thomas is Bradley McDougald. He was a starter the past two seasons in Tampa Bay. But, he surely is not Thomas, who injured his hamstring last week.
-- Can Seattle finally run the ball? To even write that question is a distinct surprise for an organization that is predicated on rushing and defense. But, the Seahawks have been poor this season running the ball. They are just 22nd in rushing yards per game. Washington is 13th against the rush this season. Eddie Lacy will be the feature back Sunday. Thomas Rawls will be lurking behind him. Seattle hopes one of those backs emerges as reliable in some point during the season.
-- Because of Seattle’s inability to run the ball, it has become more reliant than ever on Russell Wilson’s arm. Wilson is on pace for the most past attempts of his career in the regular season. Wilson’s total pass attempts has increased each season since he became the starter in 2012. He has long said he scrambles so he can throw, not because he would prefer to run. This is often a large headache for the opposition. “He’s like Houdini when he gets out of that stuff and every coach that has ever played against him says you have got to contain him, you have got to keep him in the pocket and nobody ever does,” Jay Gruden said. “So he will get outside the pocket. We just have got to minimize the damages when he does, cover downfield and then have great pursuit angles for him and force him into some bad decisions hopefully, which he doesn’t make a lot of.” Wilson’s interception percentage this season is just 1.6 percent.
-- How much will losing two tight ends influence the Redskins’ playbook? Washington works in a lot of two-tight end sets. Without Jordan Reed (hamstring) or Niles Paul (concussion), Washington is down to Vernon Davis and Jeremy Sprinkle. The number of catches this season for Sprinkle, who was a 2017 fifth-round pick: zero. Number of targets: zero. Number of times he has played in the NFL’s loudest stadium on a wet, cold day: zero.
-- What’s at stake Sunday? Well, a lot, per usual on an NFL Sunday. The Redskins have lost two consecutive games, are all sorts of beaten up and need to win to hang around in the NFC playoff race. After visiting Seattle, they host the 6-2 Minnesota Vikings, then travel to play the 5-2 New Orleans Saints the following week. It’s a crucial and difficult three-game stretch. Seattle has won four consecutive games to move into a first-place tie with the Los Angeles Rams atop the NFC West. It may not be the juggernaut of recent seasons, but it also seems to find a way to win and get into the playoffs.