Playoff bound Seattle hopes to play with edge


Playoff bound Seattle hopes to play with edge

RENTON, Wash. (AP) Earl Thomas says there is no room on the Seattle Seahawks' bandwagon. If you weren't on the ride already, Thomas says it's too late.

Even if the Seahawks are suddenly one of the teams people are trying to latch onto as they surge toward the postseason.

``Don't jump on the bandwagon now,'' Thomas said Sunday night. ``We have a chip on our shoulder and we play with it, and showed it.''

Seattle won its fourth straight game by beating NFC West-leading San Francisco 42-13 on Sunday night before a national TV audience.

That clinched at least a wild-card berth for the Seahawks sending Pete Carroll to the postseason for the second time in his three seasons in Seattle.

The win also kept Seattle's slim hopes of winning the division alive and with it exactly what no one else in the NFC wants: being forced to make a trip to Seattle for the playoffs.

Seattle needs to beat St. Louis in the season finale and get an Arizona win at San Francisco for the Seahawks to win the division.

``Now we're there with the opportunity to still win a division championship which would be huge for us and that obviously takes a lot of work somewhere else but we have to take care of our business first,'' Carroll said on Monday.

Seattle (10-5) was already rolling toward the postseason with consecutive games reaching the 50-point mark, becoming the first team since 1950 to reach the half-century mark in back-to-back games. But those came against lesser competition in blowouts of Arizona and Buffalo.

The win over the 49ers legitimized what Seattle has been building. The Seahawks scored with ease on what was the top scoring defense in the NFL, led by rookie Russell Wilson's four TD passes. And the win showed the Seahawks could be a tough opponent in the postseason.

Seattle doesn't hide that it plays with a feeling of being overlooked. The Seahawks' most notable moment this season was the ``Fail Mary'' against Green Bay where the Seahawks were on the receiving end of a blown call that eventually helped settle a labor dispute with the officials.

The blowout of the 49ers grabbed the kind of attention the Seahawks have wanted.

``The chip on the shoulder? That's not something we just manufactured for the sake of getting fired up. The guys in this room feel that. Almost every one of these guys has their reasons. I feel like that myself. We just kind of share in that chip and we don't even have to pass it around,'' Carroll said.

``We all have one. That's just kind of how it's been. Just look, we're up here in the Northwest and they like talking about us after they talk about everybody else. And that's OK. That's just the way it is. It doesn't amount to much but sometimes it does fuel you a little to keep you going. It works for us so we'll stay with it.''

The 42 points Seattle scored against San Francisco were the most allowed by the 49ers since 2009 and capped a remarkable stretch for Seattle.

The Seahawks have outscored their past three opponents 150-30. When David Akers kicked a 33-yard field goal in the second quarter, that snapped a streak of 100 straight points scored at home by Seattle - the final 21 against the New York Jets, all 58 against Arizona and the first 21 against the 49ers.

The Jacksonville Jaguars scored 94 points in eight home games this season. Seattle was the first team since the 1991 Washington Redskins to score at least 100 straight points at home.

Wilson will enter the finale needing two touchdown passes to become the NFL's leader for TD throws by a rookie, passing Peyton Manning. In the past four weeks, Wilson has eight touchdowns passing and three rushing.

``We have a frontline, first-rate quarterback going out there in these games and you are seeing that,'' Carroll said. ``We trust him in his decision-making because he's proven worthy of that.''

Seattle moved to the top of the league in scoring defense by solving the run-stopping woes that have hurt the team for the latter half of the season.

The problems started in Week 7 when the 49ers' game plan surprised the Seahawks and they rushed for 175 yards as a team, including 131 by Frank Gore.

Seattle was giving up a league-worst 5.3 yards per carry since that loss to the 49ers, but returned to its base principles that served them well the first six weeks of the season.

The Seahawks never let Gore get started on Sunday. His longest run was 18 yards, but his other five carries gained just 10 yards. Even the running of Colin Kaepernick was corralled with the 49ers' mobile QB held to 31 yards.

``We've been playing well for quite a while and I can feel it in the room and the guys can understand it and all,'' Carroll said. ``But that doesn't mean anything unless we can do it again.''

Notes: Carroll said LBs Leroy Hill (hamstring) and Malcolm Smith (groin) might be in question for the regular season finale due to their injuries. ... CB Marcus Trufant (hamstring) is expected to practice Wednesday for the first time since before Week 13 at Chicago. ... Seattle activated SS Winston Guy from the exempt list and waived WR Deon Butler.


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10 Questions in 10 days: More investments on D-Line, but who goes where?


10 Questions in 10 days: More investments on D-Line, but who goes where?

With Redskins Training Camp set to begin July 26th, JP Finlay takes a look at 10 of the most pressing questions for the Burgundy and Gold. 

No. 10: Major questions at linebacker on Redskins depth chart 

No. 9: What is Kevin O’Connell's new role in Redskins offense?

No. 8: More investments on D-Line, but who goes where?

The Redskins had to improve the defensive line this offseason. The defense ranked dead last against the run in 2017, and without improvement up front defensively, the playoffs would again be out of reach in 2018. 

And for the second straight season, Washington tried. 

The team selected Daron Payne out of Alabama with their first-round pick and Tim Settle out of Virginia Tech in the fifth round. The front office also waived under-performing Terrell McClain in the offseason and moved on from veteran A.J. Francis.

Perhaps most important, the team should have 2017 first-rounder Jonathan Allen completely healthy this fall. He and Matt Ioannidis looked like a strong front in 2017 before a foot injury shut down Allen for the year in Week 5. Add in Anthony Lanier, who flashed big-time sack potential, and the Redskins have a strong, young nucleus.  

But how does it all work?

In the base 3-4 scheme, Payne might have the strength to play nose tackle. Settle definitely has the size for the nose. Both are rookies, however, and will need to learn a lot, and fast, to start Week 1. Veteran Stacy McGee, coming off groin surgery, might be able to hold off the rookies if he is fully healthy. When a nose is on the field, expect Allen and Ioannidis to line up at the defensive tackle spots. If he's not playing nose, Payne will rotate in at tackle as well. Another veteran, Ziggy Hood, will provide depth at tackle, if he makes the team. 

In the nickel package, which the team deploys more than half of their snaps, expect to see a healthy rotation of Allen, Payne, Ioannidis and Lanier. Keeping those players fresh should allow interior pocket pressure, and that could be great news for Ryan Kerrigan and Preston Smith

With Payne and Allen the headliners, and Ioannidis and Lanier valuable, and Settle capable at the nose, the Redskins have five D-line roster spots about locked down. 

Last year, the team kept six defensive linemen coming out of camp. If McGee is healthy, that spot will be his. If he's not, Hood likely hangs on. It's also possible the team keeps seven D-linemen, particularly as they monitor McGee's groin injury. 

The good news is last year, due to injuries and the talent on the roster, a number of players were forced into spots they didn't truly belong. Hood doesn't have the true size to play nose, but he was forced into the position. Lanier is best served as an interior pass rusher, but was forced to be a run stuffer. 

With more investments on the line, and better luck in the training room, the 2018 Redskins D-line should have more people playing where they belong. And that could go a long way. 



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Need to Know: The best running backs the Redskins will face in 2018

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Need to Know: The best running backs the Redskins will face in 2018

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, July 18, eight days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

The five best running backs the Redskins will face in 2018

This week we’ll be looking at the best of what the Redskins will face during the 2018 season. Today the running backs are up. They are roughly ranked 2017 rushing yards, although I did some juggling based on offseason moves and other factors. Prior to this, we looked at the best teamsreceivers, and quarterbacks

Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys—He actually finished 10thin the league in rushing yards behind two backs who will face the Redskins. Elliott gets boosted up the list because he was suspended for six games last year. He averaged 98 yards per game played, and had he been able to play in 16 games, he would have led the league in rushing yards with over 300 yards to spare. In three games against the Redskins, he has averaged 110 yards per game and he has five touchdowns. The Redskins’ revamped rushing defense will be tested twice.

Mark Ingram, Saints—He will be coming off of a four-game suspension for Redskins vs. Saints in Week 5. Will he be rested or rusty? If he’s in any kind of form, the Redskins defense will have to be on its game. Last year against Washington in the Superdome, Ingram rushed for 134 yards and a touchdown on just 11 carries. 

Leonard Fournette, Jaguars—The rookie did surpass the thousand-yard mark, posting 1,040. Some pointed out that it wasn’t a consistent effort as he gained 310 yards, almost 30 percent of his total, in two back-to-back games in Weeks 5 and 6. That’s fine but he still is a difficult opponent with his combination of size and speed. I look for him to have a big breakout this year. 

Dion Lewis/Derrick Henry, Titans—Lewis averaged 5.0 yards per carry with the Patriots last year and Henry gained 744 yards while sharing time with the now-retired DeMarco Murray. Lewis will play a lot of third downs and will spell Henry sometimes early in games. That will leave the 6-3, 247-pound Henry fresh to grind up the clock if the Titans have a late lead. 

Jay Ajayi, Eagles—Nobody has quite figured out why the Dolphins dealt him to the Eagles in midseason, but Philly was more than happy to add him to the offense. Ajayi became a workhorse in the postseason with 42 rushing attempts and six receptions in three games. 

I do need to mention Giants rookie Saquan Barkley here. I have to think that the second overall pick of the draft will rank somewhere on this list, but without seeing him in an NFL uniform yet it’s hard to rank him. He will be dangerous, no doubt. 

David Johnson of the Cardinals also will be tough to handle. After he missed all of last year with a hand injury it's difficult to rank him, too. If he is in his 2016 form in Week 1 the Redskins will face a tough task. 

Best of the rest: Lamar Miller, Texans, Alvin Kamara, Saints, Ronald Jones, Bucs

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler

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Former Redskins offensive tackle Geroge Starke, one of the original Hogs, was born on this date in 1948.

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/26) 8
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 22
—Roster cut to 53 (9/1) 45

The Redskins last played a game 199 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 53 days. 

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