Al Woods suspended as Seahawks lose third key player this month

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - DECEMBER 02: Al Woods #72 of the Seattle Seahawks. (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - DECEMBER 02: Al Woods #72 of the Seattle Seahawks. (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images) /

The bad news keeps coming for the Seahawks, as the NFL suspended DT Al Woods for four games. He’s the third key player Seattle has lost this month.

As if the Seahawks hadn’t already seen enough bad news in December, the NFL suspended defensive tackle Al Woods today, for violation of the policy on performance-enhancing substances. The suspension begins immediately and would apply to the first two playoff games for Seattle, should they advance to the second round.

It isn’t a stretch to call Woods a key player, or for that matter, Rashaad Penny or Josh Gordon, the first two players the Hawks lost earlier this month. They may have only had six starts among them, but all three have made big contributions in Seattle this season. After a painfully slow start, Penny was coming off back-to-back 100 total yard games before he was injured on his first play versus the Rams. He looked ready to deliver on the promise the Seahawks saw in him.

Gordon may have only had one start and caught just seven passes, but virtually every one of them picked up a key first down in a crucial Seattle drive. Okay, so only six were for first downs, but they were still all big plays. The impact of his Ioss on the Seahawks is the least important part of this story. I can’t imagine he’s going to get another chance in the NFL, but at this point, I only hope he manages to turn it around for himself.

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So we come back to Mr. Woods. He ably filled in for Jarran Reed for the first six games this year, starting in five. Reed was serving his own suspension, one that had many 12s puzzled. Woods didn’t have many flashy stats, it’s true, but he played solid run defense and recovered two fumbles. Despite Reed’s return, Woods hasn’t seen a huge dropoff in his playing time. In his first six games, Woods averaged 34.3 snaps per game. Even though he moved to a backup position after game six, he was still averaging 30.5 snaps per contest.

In the absence of Woods, I’d expect to see a bit higher workload for Reed and Poona Ford. Hopefully, both Jadeveon Clowney and Ziggy Ansah will be available Sunday. This would allow  Quinton Jefferson to move inside more often, and potentially get L.J. Collier more involved as well. Seattle brought Bryan Mone from the practice squad to take Woods’ roster spot. He played in the Hawks first three games, and like Woods, he is a massive roadblock. At 366 pounds, he’s a one-man traffic jam.

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No, Woods isn’t the key player on the Seahawks. We got a taste of what losing Bobby Wagner would look like, and it was far from pretty. Despite the heroics of Wagner, Chris Carson, Tyler Lockett, and especially Russell Wilson, football isn’t a one-man game – although DangeRuss sometimes makes it look like one. It takes 53 to win, and this is another loss the Hawks have to overcome.