Expect Tampa Bay to give the Redskins a heavy dose of a running game that’s been quite effective over the past month, with the team having rushed for over 150 yards in three of its last four tests. Rookie LeGarrette Blount (599 rushing yards, 5 TD) supplanted oft-injured veteran Carnell ‘Cadillac’ Williams (365 rushing yards, 37 receptions, 3 total TD) as the lead running back at midseason and has proven he can handle the load, averaging a solid 4.5 yards per attempt and delivering a pair of 100-yard efforts that includes last week’s 103-yard, 20-carry display against the Falcons.
Mike Williams has remained an integral part of the game plan as a receiver, giving second-year quarterback Josh Freeman (2442 passing yards, 16 TD, 6 INT) a sound check-down option behind the offense’s two primary targets, impressive rookie wideout Mike Williams (51 receptions, 769 yards, 7 TD) and tight end Kellen Winslow (50 receptions, 2 TD). The unflappable Freeman, who’s engineered four fourth- quarter comebacks this year and drastically cut down his interception totals from his 2009 debut, has hit a bit of a rough patch in an otherwise strong sophomore season, with the 22-year-old having completed under 50 percent of his throws during the club’s current skid.
The Bucs have some concerns across the front line as well, with starting right guard Davin Joseph sustaining a season-ending broken foot in the Baltimore game and center and anchorman Jeff Faine landing on injured reserve after tearing his triceps last week.
With or without Haynesworth, the Washington defense has been a major disappointment that enters Sunday’s tilt having allowed a league-worst 397.3 total yards per game. The Redskins haven’t consistently stopped either the run or the pass, ranking 28th in rushing defense (137.0 ypg) and permitting the fourth-highest yardage total through the air (260.3 ypg). The unit was overpowered by the physical Giants a week ago, with New York churning out 197 yards on the ground and four rushing touchdowns in cruising to victory.
One bright spot out of Washington’s aging and transitioning group has been outside linebacker Brian Orakpo (48 tackles), a fierce pass rusher who’s accounted for 8 1/2 of the team’s season sum of 22 sacks, while cornerback DeAngelo Hall (79 tackles, 12 PD) is tied for second in the NFL with six interceptions as the main playmaker of a secondary that hopes to have two starters — fellow corner Carlos Rogers (46 tackles, 1 INT, 9 PD) and hard-hitting strong safety LaRon Landry (85 tackles, 1 sack, 1 INT) — back on the field after sitting out last week’s game due to injury.