Delaware native Wendell Smallwood in Redskins' plans at running back vs. Eagles with Derrius Guice out
PHILADELPHIA – For one game, Washington had its ideal running situation with Adrian Peterson and Derrius Guice blasting their way through opponents.
The two combined for 228 yards rushing in Washington's 29-21 win over Carolina on Dec. 1.
And then, just like that, it was gone – again.
Guice sprained his MCL last Sunday against Green Bay, and was placed on injured reserve for the third time in two seasons.
So now it's Peterson, who's 34 years old, once again as the main running back for Washington. Incredibly, Peterson is on pace to pass 1,000 yards rushing for the ninth time in his career. Peterson needs 282 yards over the final three games.
If he gets there, he'll get a $500,000 bonus. And yes, he's well aware.
But Peterson will share some carries with a familiar face among Eagles fans in Delaware native Wendell Smallwood.
Interim Washington coach Bill Callahan, who's 3-5 since taking over for Jay Gruden, knows it won't be the same without Guice.
"It gave us kind of a 1-2 punch, kind of similar to when we had Ricky Watters and Charlie Garner in Philadelphia, the old "Thunder and Lightning" combination," Callahan said, hearkening back to his days as an assistant coach with the Eagles in the mid-1990s.
"Yeah, you lose a little bit of that," Callahan added. "Smallwood and these other guys have to step up and plug the dike. It’s a loss for us, and it’s a shame that we have to put him on IR."
Smallwood has 19 carries for 76 yards this season after rushing for 850 yards in his first three seasons with the Eagles.
It has been an interesting season for the Wilmington native. The Eagles waived Smallwood, their fifth-round draft pick in 2016, on Sept. 1, days before the start of the season, and Washington claimed him.
His first game with Washington came at Lincoln Financial Field against the Eagles. And that was controversial as Gruden decided to have Smallwood active to help on special teams at the expense of Peterson. It was the first time in Peterson's long career that he was a healthy scratch.
Smallwood should get some chances against the Eagles.
"He’s a great character person and player," Callahan said. "He’s got great makeup. His best trait is his availability and his dependability. He shows up every day, works hard, focused, concentrates, not only as a running back, but on our special teams as well ... He's a mature guy and a great teammate. He’s a good player to have on the roster."
Washington quarterback Dwayne Haskins gets sacked a lot, having gone down 22 times in the last five games. If you project that over a full 16-game season, that's 70 sacks, the third most in NFL history.
So, yes, getting pressure on Haskins is paramount. And the Eagles will likely have to do it without Derek Barnett for a second straight week. Against the Giants, Vinny Curry had 2 sacks starting in Barnett's place. It was Curry's first multi-sack game in four years.
Washington's offensive line, without left tackle Trent Williams, who's feuding with management, is just as porous as the Giants' line that the Eagles dominated.
The Eagles have the No. 3 ranked rushing defense in the NFL, and they will want to stop Peterson and force Haskins to throw. Haskins has been erratic, completing just 55.0 percent of his passes, with only 3 TDs and 7 interceptions. His passer rating is 61.2.
Haskins' passer rating would rank last if he had enough passing attempts to qualify among the NFL leaders.
The question is, as it will be the rest of the season, can the Eagles generate enough offense without their top three wide receivers and running back Jordan Howard?
Against Washington, with the Eagles' playoff hopes on the line, the answer is still yes.
Score: Eagles 22, Washington 13.
Around the NFC East
It continues to boggle the mind that the Cowboys are below .500. As USA Today writes, they have a 4,000-yard passer, a 1,000-yard rusher and a 1,000-yard receiver. And they average 430 yards per game on offense.
But as running back Ezekiel Elliott (1,071 yards rushing) put it: "Who cares if you rush for 2,000 and you don't even make the playoffs?"
The Cowboys' issues seem to boil down to coaching. And with head coach Jason Garrett a lame duck, owner Jerry Jones didn't exactly deny that he is considering replacements, such as former Ohio State coach Urban Meyer.
But one name to rule out as a possible Cowboys' GM: Troy Aikman. He said he wants to be a GM, but not for the only team he played for, because, of course, Jones calls the shots.
Eli Manning started against the Eagles last Monday, his first start since Week 2. And as Northjersey.com writes, when Manning starts Sunday against the Dolphins, he deserves a long, loud standing ovation from Giants fans at MetLife Stadium.
This could be Manning's farewell after 16 seasons, all with the Giants. Head coach Pat Shurmur said rookie Daniel Jones will start agawhen he has healed from his high-ankle sprain. Jones has been ruled out for a second straight game.
Contact Martin Frank at email@example.com. Follow on Twitter @Mfrankfnfl.