3 players to watch when Seahawks take on Packers for TNF
It was a short week for the Seahawks (4-5), who had just three days to prepare to face the Packers (4-4-1) at CenturyLink Field on Thursday night.
Despite the quick turnaround, Seattle is relatively healthy compared to Week 10. Starting guard D.J. Fluker (calf) and running back Chris Carson (hip) are set to return to the lineup after missing one game, and safety Bradley McDougald (knee) managed to stay off of the final injury report. The only player listed as doubtful is linebacker K.J. Wright (knee), whom head coach Pete Carroll said will be a game-time decision.
With Wright’s injury and the performances from last week in mind, here are a few Seahawks to keep an eye on Thursday:
LBs Bobby Wagner and Barkevious Mingo
If Wright is ruled out, Seattle could turn to Barkevious Mingo at weakside linebacker. Mingo, who normally plays strongside linebacker and acts as a situational defensive end, took over Wright’s role in a Week 5 game against the Los Angeles Rams.
After taking on Todd Gurley last week, Seattle’s defense will face another tough test against the run this week. Wagner and Mingo will have their hands full with second-year running back Aaron Jones. Jones leads the Packers in rushing yards with 494 yards on 73 carries and is averaging 70 yards per game. He sits in the middle of the pack in total rushing yards but leads the league with a whopping 6.8 yards per attempt. (For the sake of comparison, the team’s second-leading rusher, Jamaal Williams, has 270 yards on the same number of carries.)
Whoever is getting the most carries
Chris Carson’s 497 yards leads all Seattle running backs through 10 weeks, but Mike Davis (346 yards) and rookie Rashaad Penny (254 yards) aren’t too far behind. In fact, the Seahawks are the only team in the league to have three separate running backs to rush for 100 or more yards in a single game this season.
Carson will resume the starting role when he returns to action Thursday, but if he’s forced out of the game, with both Davis and Penny Seattle will have the benefit of sticking to its run-first game plan no matter the personnel. When Carson was sidelined last week, Penny recorded the first 100-yard game of his career and his first NFL touchdown, so he may be the next option should Carson encounter any setbacks.
WR Doug Baldwin
For the first time in five years, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson began the season without his No. 1 target.
Veteran wide receiver Doug Baldwin missed all of the preseason with a knee injury, and then suffered an MCL-related injury in his opposite knee early in a Week 1 game against the Denver Broncos. Baldwin was forced to miss (most of) three weeks before returning in Week 4.
After averaging more than 62 yards per game over the last four seasons, Baldwin saw a limited workload in his return from injury this year. However, that workload has ramped up over the last few weeks. Baldwin was in play for 75 percent of offensive snap counts in Week 4 (his first week back from injury) and improved to 98 percent of offensive snaps in Week 9.
During an interview Tuesday on 710 ESPN’s The Huddle, Baldwin said this week was the first time he didn’t feel pain from his injury post-game.
“It’s been a very long time since I felt like myself,” he said. “Thursday last week was the first day I woke up in the morning and I didn’t feel pain. I’ve been dealing with this for four months, and I forgot what it felt like to not have pain.”