The Washington Redskins today will get in their last practice of the week and then take to the air as they head to Seattle, where on Sunday they take on the Seahawks.
Mike Shanahan & Co. enter this game with a 3-7 record and look to snap a six-game losing streak, which is the longest both of Shanahan’s coaching career and the longest for the Redskins since Dan Snyder bought the team in 1999. Washington hasn’t lost seven straight games since 1994, during Norv Turner’s first season as head coach. The team finished 3-13 that season.
Here are five storylines to follow Sunday as the Redskins face the Seahawks.
1.) Offensive line health — Left tackle Trent Williams says he hopes to play despite being hampered by a strained medial collateral ligament in his left knee for all of this week. The Redskins certainly could use Williams, especially with Chris Clemons (eight sacks) coming off the edge for Seattle. The Redskins also hope to get rookie Maurice Hurt back at left guard, but if not, natural tackle Tyler Polumbus could make a second straight start at guard. If Rex Grossman is to have a chance to build on last week’s outing (season-high 24 points for the offense), then he needs his revamped line to give him good protection.
2.) State of the secondary — Starting strong safety LaRon Landry appears likely to play after missing last week’s game with a straight left Achilles’ tendon. Meanwhile, starting cornerback Josh Wilson has been limited in practice by a hamstring strain all week. DeAngelo Hall gave himself a failing grade after last week’s loss to the Cowboys, but says he’s fine now and “still swagged out” and views himself as one of the best corners in the game. He’s champing at the bit to make some big plays. Is this the week he finally gets his second interception of the season? Meanwhile, free safety Oshiomogho Atogwe, who has yet to make the impact that was expected when he signed with the team, says he’s finally fully healthy and ready to start making some plays for this defense.
3.) Running back rotation – Roy Helu and Ryan Torain have a new cohort in rookie Evan Royster, who received a promotion to the 53-man roster this week, and although the offense produced a season-high 24 points last week, the rushing game remains stuck in neutral. Helu hasn’t started the last two games, but has made more plays — generally coming on for a struggling Torain. Is this the week that coaches go with Helu off the bat to see if he can provide a spark and get things going early? Will Royster receive the opportunity to show he can help this team? Seattle is tied for third in the NFL against the run, giving up only 3.5 yards per carry, so the going won’t exactly be easy.
4.) Gano’s execution — The second-year pro has missed two field goals in back-to-back games — none more costly than the 52-yarder in overtime last Sunday. The Redskins continue to stick with him, however, for a combination of reasons: Gano has kicked with great consistency in practice and has shown promise in games (making three winning kicks in overtime last season and a 59-yarder this year along with boasting great leg strength on kickoffs), and coaches don’t believe that anyone on the free agent market gives them a better chance to win. Gano needs to have a good game this week, however, or management’s opinion of him could quickly change.
5.) Moss’s return — It’s no coincidence that the Redskins’ offense has struggled ever since Santana Moss broke his hand in sixth game of the season against Carolina. The unit finally found a way to move the ball last week as Rex Grossman developed a good rhythm with Jabar Gaffney and Donte Stallworth and also had a big throw to David Anderson, who has filled in for Moss. The reliable Moss is expected to play on Sunday and could help this offense take another step forward both as a pass-catcher and as a player, who draws attention from the defense and creates more opportunities for other receivers.