NFL Wire News

Seahawks staying with beleaguered O-line

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RENTON, Wash. — The Seattle Seahawks are sticking with the same five offensive linemen this week against the Cincinnati Bengals despite another rough outing last week.

Quarterback Russell Wilson was sacked six times by the Detroit Lions and hit 10 times overall. Wilson’s now been sacked 18 times on the season and has constantly had to run for his life through the first four weeks of the season.

“We’re taking sacks at an alarming rate right now,” offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said.

Head coach Pete Carroll has frequently called the offensive line a work in progress this season with three new starters up front. Drew Nowak, a converted defensive lineman, is replacing Max Unger at center. Garry Gilliam, a tight end until his senior year of college, has started at right tackle while last year’s right tackle, Justin Britt, has moved inside to left guard.

The group has had some growing pains from a communication standpoint as Nowak has been broken in at center. However, offensive line coach Tom Cable believes the communication has been much better the last two weeks.

“We really have two games without missing a call, in other words to redirect or a pressure or check or something like that,” Cable said.

“I think that part we’re really on the same page now; it really gets down to winning your one-on-one battle.”

Winning those matchups has been a problem as well. Seattle’s linemen have frequently been left flailing at air as a defender has dropped Wilson for a sack or hit a running back in the backfield.

Nowak also had problems with his snaps against Detroit. One snap went wide of Wilson for a fumble that Wilson recovered for a sack. Two other poor snaps also led to fumbles as Wilson had trouble gathering the ball and protecting it against oncoming defenders.

“It’s my job to make sure that everything is on point and it wasn’t the way it’s supposed to be,” Nowak said. “I take 100 percent onus on that and I have to do a better job of that.”

The protection issues aren’t all on the offensive line either. Wilson is responsible for knowing when a defender isn’t blocked and that he needs to get rid of the ball quicker.

Cable said they aren’t currently making any changes to the group. Alvin Bailey and Patrick Lewis both have starting experience with Seattle and could play if needed. However, Cable said that’s a consideration only if the inconsistencies continue.

“We have to be better. That’s the bottom line. We have to be better,” Cable said. “All the dropback throws, a number of them clean, but then you’ve got four or five that aren’t so that’s where we’ve got to be more consistent and we’re working towards that.”

SERIES HISTORY: 19th regular-season meeting. Series tied, 9-9. This will be just the second trip to Cincinnati since 1993 for Seattle. The Seahawks lost the last meeting, 34-12, in Seattle in 2011.

GAME PLAN

The Seahawks defense will face its toughest challenge since Kam Chancellor returned to the field. The Bengals are second in the league in total offense and are averaging 30.2 points per game. Seattle will need to keep RBs Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill in check to force the Bengals to be one-dimensional offensively. While Cincinnati’s passing attack is fairly prolific, it plays into the strengths of Seattle’s defense.

Offensively, the Seahawks have to control DT Geno Atkins and DE Carlos Dunlap up front to give their offense a chance to function.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH

–Seahawks interior OL vs. Bengals DT Geno Atkins.

A group that has struggled through the first four games of the season will be tested once again this Sunday. Atkins can be one of the most dominant defensive linemen in the league. Atkins has three sacks and a forced fumble through four games.

–Seahawks LB Bobby Wagner vs. Bengals RB Giovani Bernard.

Bernard can be a threat in the running game as well as catching passes out of the backfield. It will be Wagner’s responsibility to keep Bernard from causing damage.

–Seahawks CB Richard Sherman vs. Bengals WR A.J. Green.

Sherman called Green overrated the last time the two teams met and the two will line up against each other often on Sunday.


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