Seattle scrambling for Running Back after Rawls Injury

thomas-rawls-seattleThomas Rawls had been filling in admirably at running back for the Seattle Seahawks…then he suffered a broken ankle and torn ligaments in Sunday’s 35-6 victory over the Baltimore Ravens. Rawls, who had 830 rushing yards on just 147 carries this year, will now miss the rest of the season.

Head coach Pete Carroll says that the team is now trying to figure out when previous starter Marshawn Lynch can return. The 5-time Pro Bowler last played on Nov. 15 against Arizona, then underwent abdominal surgery on Nov. 25. The hope was that Lynch could return within 3-4 weeks; however, it doesn’t look like this will happen now.

“We’ll see how Marshawn does,’’ said Carroll. “He was back in rehabbing with us (this week). We’ll see where he is. He’s got a chance to get back. It’s all about getting back in shape and getting right. I don’t know what the timetable is at this point. Our trainers can’t tell yet. But that will be the next thing we will look to see how that works out.”

Without Lynch and Rawls, Seattle will go with DuJuan Harris and Fred Jackson, who combined for just 57 yards on 25 carries after Rawls exited the Ravens game with an ankle injury. Fullback Derrick Coleman could also receive some carries, given that he had a 19-yard run last Sunday.

The Seattle Times predicts that the Seahawks will be looking through the free agent ranks in hopes of adding another tailback, considering that the trade deadline has already passed. This leaves possibilities like former 49ers RB Kendall Hunter, former Philadelphia Eagle Bryce Brown, ex-Denver Bronco Montee Ball and former Arizona Cardinal Marion Grice.

marshawn-lynchTwo more options would be former Seahawk Christine Michael, who’s currently on the Washington Redskins practice squad, and ex-Baltimore Raven Ray Rice. The latter has not played since 2013, as Rice was suspended for the entire 2014 season following a domestic incident.

Obviously none of these options are extremely exciting to Seattle since they’ve already had chances with other teams. But it wouldn’t hurt to add some depth at tailback until they can get Lynch healthy and starting again.

In the meantime, the Seahawks will try to wrap up a playoff berth in the NFC. They get the Browns and Ravens at home, which offers a perfect opportunity to settle the running game against weaker opponents. Then Seattle finishes with a tough home game against Arizona, which has already clinched the NFC East at 11-2.

Since beginning the season at 4-5, the Seahawks have gone on to win four straight games and put themselves in position to earn one of the NFC’s two Wild Card spots. They won the Super Bowl in 2013 and came within a yard of winning the Super Bowl last year. Odds are that they’ll have a much tougher time recreating the same feat in 2015 with so many injuries at running back. But if Lynch can return in time, maybe they have a shot at another title run.

Green Bay Packers: Once Again Loaded with Offensive Talent

aaron-rodgers-bet-3In recent years, the Green Bay Packers have easily been one of the NFL’s most talented offensive teams. They’ve boasted a number of offensive stars, including Aaron Rodgers, Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, Jermichael Finley, Ryan Grant, Jordy Nelson, James Jones and Randall Cobb.

These players have helped boost the Packers to a 47-17 mark and a Super Bowl trophy over the past four seasons. But as great as Green Bay has been in the past, they might feature far more offensive talent going into the 2013-14 season.

This is especially the case at the running back position, where they now have a rookie duo that can carry the workload. Alabama product Eddie Lacy looks to be the starter and primary ball-carrier for Green Bay. He’s already shown NFL-caliber speed and physicality after rushing for 40 yards on eight carries in his preseason debut. In the best case scenario, he could return the Packers’ backfield to the prominence it saw in 2009, when Grant carried the ball. At worst, he’ll do far better than last year’s leading ballcarrier, Alex Green (464 yards).

eddie-lacyFourth-rounder Jonathan Franklin is the other rookie who should be seeing plenty of snaps. The UCLA product wasn’t drafted as somebody to compete with Lacy, but rather compliment him. Franklin is a proven talent, having run for 1,700 yards and 13 touchdowns as a senior. Other players who’ll be fighting for time include veterans James Starks, DuJuan Harris and Green.

Of course the quarterback position will be Green Bay’s strength this season. Aaron Rodgers’ receiving corp may have changed with the departures of Jennings and Driver, but it never seems to matter who he’s throwing the ball to. Last season he put up 4,295 passing yards, 39 touchdowns, 8 interceptions and a 67.2% completion rate. Fans should expect similar numbers from him this year, despite the new faces that he’ll be targeting.

Randal Cobb seems destined to star this year after catching 80 passes for 954 yards. One stat that doesn’t show up is the fact that Cobb caught 77% of the balls that were thrown to him. Don’t be surprised if the former Kentucky star records at least 1,200 receiving yards in the 2013-14 season.

jordy-nelsonJordy Nelson will be looking to return to his 2011 form, when he grabbed 15 touchdowns. Last year wasn’t quite as good since he pulled in just 47 catches for 745 yards and 7 touchdowns. But he also missed four games, and should put up big numbers if he can stay healthy.

While Nelson’s TD’s were down last season, James Jones picked up the slack by tallying 784 yards and 14 touchdowns. He should once again play a very big role in the offense.

As for the rest of wideouts, there’s be a lot of young talent fighting for the remaining three spots. Jeremy Ross, Kevin Dorsey, Jarrett Boykin, Myles White, Tyrone Walker and Charles Johnson will all be hoping to make the team. Johnson is noteworthy here because he runs a 4.35 forty-yard dash.

One guy who won’t be fighting for a roster spot is Jermichael Finley. The 26-year-old will again start at tight end for Green Bay and is hoping for more targets from Rodgers. He put up numbers of 61 catches, 667 receiving yards and two touchdowns in 2012.

As you can see, the Green Bay Packers have strong players at every offensive position. The key will be how well the veterans with the newcomers. Assuming the chemistry is good, there’s no reason to think that the Packers’ offense can’t carry them to the Super Bowl.

NFL Power Rankings for January 17th, 2013

Isn’t it amazing what a difference a week can make in the NFL? In our previous power rankings, we were ready to anoint the Denver Broncos as Super Bowl champions three weeks prematurely. But after dropping a shootout against the Ravens, they’re certainly not on top any longer. Denver wasn’t the only favorite to lose either, which turned this week’s power rankings edition upside-down.

1. New England Patriots – The Patriots took care of business last week, just like you’d expect a Bill Belichick team to do. Tom Brady was his usually-brilliant self after throwing for 344 yards, three TD’s and no interceptions. Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen combined to give New England a pretty solid running attack too – 123 rushing yards and 2 TD’s on 22 carries. The Patriots will be gifted with another home game thanks to the Broncos loss.

Last Game: 41-28 win over Houston Texans
Next Game: vs. Baltimore Ravens in AFC Championship

2. Atlanta Falcons – Atlanta was on the verge of blowing the largest fourth quarter lead (20 PTS) in playoff history to the Seattle Seahawks. The ‘Hawks actually grabbed the lead with just 31 seconds left on the board after Marshawn Lynch’s go-ahead touchdown. But Matt Ryan was able to connect on two long passes and set Matt Bryant up for a game-winning field goal with 8 seconds remaining. So is this scare going to inspire the Falcons to play better, or serve to foreshadow another blown fourth-quarter lead against San Francisco this week?

Last Game: 30-28 win over Seattle Seahawks
Next Game: vs. San Francisco 49ers in NFC Championship

3. San Francisco 49ers – Colin Kaepernick never looked phased as he out-dueled reigning NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers during an offensive explosion. Kaepernick ran for 181 yards, which is a playoff record for quarterbacks, and he added another 263 yards through the air. More importantly, the second-year QB scored four total touchdowns for San Francisco and led them to victory. Can he duplicate the same feat and survive another road matchup against the Falcons? It’s certainly not out of the question.

Last Game: 45-31 win over Green Bay Packers
Next Game: at Atlanta Falcons in NFC Championship

4. Baltimore Ravens – Many times, you find out what a team is truly made of when the postseason comes around. And that’s exactly what we’re finding out about the Baltimore Ravens, who’ve won two games we didn’t think they would. Joe Flacco saved his best football for when the Ravens needed it most after throwing for 331 yards, three TD’s and no interceptions against the Broncos. Plus he hit Jacoby Jones for a 70-yard touchdown with just 31 seconds left to force overtime. Baltimore will definitely need more of the same from Flacco if they’ve got any chance of beating the Patriots at home.

Last Game: 38-35 double (OT) win over Denver Broncos
Next Game: at Denver Broncos in AFC Championship

5. Denver Broncos (Eliminated) – Denver’s defense played pretty strong throughout the regular season, but couldn’t seem to find an answer against the Ravens. Peyton Manning had his usual strong game (290PYDS, 3TD), but made a mistake in overtime by throwing across his body; the pass was picked off by CB Corey Graham to give Baltimore the ball at midfield. A few runs later, Justin Tucker nailed a game-winning field in the second OT to complete the upset. Now Peyton has all offseason to kick himself after an otherwise incredible year.

Last Game: 38-35 double OT loss to Baltimore Ravens

6. Seattle Seahawks (Eliminated) – Nobody was hotter than Seattle heading into the playoffs. Unfortunately, the odds were stacked against them with having to play every postseason game on the road. Even with this being said, they came extremely close to capping off a 20-point fourth quarter comeback against the Falcons. Next year should offer plenty of promise for the Seahawks because they return offensive stars QB Russell Wilson and RB Marshawn Lynch. If Seattle can upgrade their receiving corps, prepare to watch Wilson really take off!

Last Game: 30-28 loss to Atlanta Falcons

7. Green Bay Packers (Eliminated) – In what seemed like a muddled NFC, many experts were picking Green Bay to make the Super Bowl. However, their defense wasn’t as strong as everybody thought; the Pack surrendered over 440 total yards to Niners QB Colin Kaepernick and 579 yards overall. Bolstering the defense will definitely be the focus as Green Bay heads into this offseason. As for their running game, maybe the Cheeseheads have found a reliable option in undrafted rookie DuJuan Harris.

Last Game: 45-31 loss to San Francisco 49ers

8. Houston Texans (Eliminated) – After starting out 11-1, Houston had aspirations of making the franchise’s first Super Bowl appearance. But the way the Texans ended the regular season – which included losing three out of the last four games – may have cost them a real title shot. This no doubt hurt after losing the AFC’s top seed and being forced to play New England on the road. Defensive injuries definitely played a part in Houston’s demise, which made stopping Tom Brady and Co. that much tougher. Staying healthy will be the big challenge for the Texans next year because the talent is there.

Last Game: 41-28 loss to New England Patriots

For descriptions on the following eliminated teams, check out our previous power rankings.

9. Washington Redskins

10. Minnesota Vikings

11. Indianapolis Colts

12. Cincinnati Bengals