If the Redskins want to come out with a victory, the running game will need a fresh start against a top-tier Minnesota defense that has had success stopping the run so far this year.
As the 2017 season has progessed over the last few weeks, the game-changing ability of the Washington Redskins' running backs has tapered off.
Since Week 7, the Redskins have neither recorded more than 100 rushing yards in a game nor averaged higher than four rushing yards in a contest.
Running back Chris Thompson, the team leader in rushing and receiving yards for the Redskins, is one of those players with big-play potential that needs a fresh start. Thompson finished with just 18 yards on the ground in each of Washington's last two games.
Against the Seahawks in Week 9, Thompson ended the game as the team's leading running back with only 20 yards on four carries. Meanwhile, Rob Kelley, the Redskins go-to back, averaged 1.3 yards on 14 carries.
Thompson, Kelley, and rookie running back Samaje Perine will need to step up their game in Week 10 against the Minnesota Vikings' elite run defense. The Vikings rank third in rushing yards allowed per game in the NFL with 81.4. The Purple and Gold have allowed an average 16.9 points from running backs this season, also third-best in the league.
Thompson said this week's battle against Minnesota's front-seven should feel familiar after the struggle against the Seahawks.
"It's almost like the same group of guys once again that we'll be seeing this week, their defense is pretty similar to what Seattle did," Thompson said. "So, we just got to look at the film and just figure out some ways that we can make some plays on them."
Check out these photos of the Redskins' offense preparing for their Week 10 game against the Minnesota Vikings Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017, at the Inova Sports Performance Center at Redskins Park.
While Thompson established himself as the big-play back and Kelley found a home with a steady ground-and-pound approach, the Redskins have yet to see such productivity from Perine. The rookie has just one less carry than Kelley through eight games, but has yet to break off a run of 20-plus yards or score a rushing touchdown.
"For Perine, I think he's got to keep plugging away and hopefully the touches will come later on down the season when the weather gets worse and worse and worse and we'll get some of our guys back offensively," said Washington head coach Jay Gruden.
Perine, Thompson and Kelley should have an easier time finding seams to burst through as the Washington offensive line, which has been decimated by injuries, made promising strides this week in practice. The running backs will need that extra protection up front, since the Vikings possess a fearsome front seven.
Linebackers Eric Kendricks and Anthony Barr lead the charge for the Minnesota defense. Kendricks has recorded the most tackles for the unit, with 40 solo take downs and 61 tackles total. Barr, meanwhile, makes his presence known in the backfield, where he has a team-high six tackles for a combined loss of 11 yards.
The Minnesota defense will have a fresh start on Sunday, coming off a Week 9 bye. In their last contest, the Vikings bottled up the Cleveland Browns for a combined 115 yards rushing yards and recovered two fumbles.