ASHBURN, Va. The Washington Football Team must try to extend its three-game winning streak without two key players – safety / linebacker Landon Collins and running back JD McKissic. Both were ruled out of Sunday’s game by the Las Vegas Raiders due to injuries.
Both players were injured late in Monday’s victory over the Seattle Seahawks. Collins injured a foot while McKissic suffered a concussion. Coach Ron Rivera said he did not know how much time Collins would miss.
It’s a crucial blow for Washington (5-6) as its latest hot streak vaulted it to the seventh and final playoff position in the NFC.
Collins has become a central defensive player as he switched to a hybrid safety / linebacker role. He has rushed the passerby much more out of this look – 20 times in the last five games combined compared to 10 times in the first six, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. He also handles a lot of the communication in the back seven.
Washington’s defensive turn has been helped in part by Collins as part of a three-pointer lineup along with Kam Curl and Bobby McCain. With Curl and Collins, Washington expected it to be able to hide the covers better, with offenses not always knowing who could break where – whether it was in cover or flash.
Rivera said they would fill Collins’ role as committee. Washington could choose to use more three-corner sets in nickel, or it could use a linebacker like Khaleke Hudson or David Mayo elsewhere where it wants more size.
McKissic serves as Washington’s third-down back and has caught 43 passes for 397 yards and two touchdowns. He has also carried the ball 48 times in 212 yards and two goals. He is adept at capturing flash in protection.
Washington still has Antonio Gibson as its primary back, but McKissic offered a veteran backup when needed. Rookie Jaret Patterson, with 32 carries for 104 yards, can also back Gibson up.
Wendell Smallwood, who is on Washington’s training team, will be signed to the active roster and serve as the third fullback. From 2016 to 2019, with Philadelphia and Washington, he caught 56 passes for 452 yards and two touchdowns. He also carried the ball 233 times in 931 yards and five touchdowns.
Making things potentially worse for Washington: Veteran left-back Ereck Flowers missed the final two days of training with a foot injury. He is listed as questionable, though Rivera expressed confidence he would be able to play. Veteran backup Wes Schweitzer, who would have started at the center this week, is out due to an ankle injury.
Receiver Curtis Samuel (groin), center Tyler Larsen (knee) and tight-end Ricky Seals-Jones (hip) are all listed as questionable. Samuel is expected to play even though he is still in a moment.