LOS ANGELES Ocean fog giving way to sun this morning here. Temperatures are supposed to be around 90 degrees for kickoff, and more than 90,000 people are expected to be back inside the old Coliseum for the Rams’ return game after 22 years away from Southern California.
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (1-0) AT LOS ANGELES RAMS (0-1)
Sunday 1:05 p.m., Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
TV: Ch. 13 Radio: 710-AM, 97.3-FM.
The series: Seahawks lead the series 21-14, but the Rams swept Seattle in two games last season for the first time since 2004 and have won three of the last four meetings. The Rams last hosted the Seahawks in Southern California on Oct. 23, 1988, in Anaheim — one month and six days before Russell Wilson was born. The only time the Seahawks and Rams have played in the Coliseum was in 1976, Seattle’s inaugural season.
A different Wilson: For the first time in his five seasons Russell Wilson is on an injury report. But he will start despite the ankle he sprained seven days earlier in the opening win over Miami. How mobile he is or isn’t against Rams defense that always swarms him and overloads Seattle’s offensive lines, anyway, is a key to whether the Seahawks can leave LA 2-0. The Rams have sacked Wilson 35 times in eight career meetings. That’s the most Wilson’s been dumped by any foe. We saw at the end of last week’s game and end of last season how adept Wilson has become throwing on time from the pocket. But will this O-line with new starters in four positions be able to form a consistent pocket against superb defensive tackle Aaron Donald and Ram friends? If not, Wilson may not be able to run as far and as fast from bad guys as he normally does.
Webb must improve: His line coach, Tom Cable, says the fill-in right guard knows that. Germain Ifedi remains out with a sprained ankle. So it’s Webb against Donald inside. Webb against Ndamukong Suh inside last week didn’t work out so well last week for Seattle. Coaches say Webb must get lower and move more quickly against Donald, who is younger and more lethal than the $114 million Suh. Expect the Seahawks to help Webb with double teams by center Justin Britt and right tackle Garry Gilliam, or even a running back or tight end. And expect Rams defensive coordinator Gregg Williams to flood the center — and edges, for that matter — of Seattle’s offensive line even more than he usually does.
Re-establish Rawls: One proven way to slow down a rampaging defense is run the ball right at it, make one cut and go past the blitzing. Thomas Rawls specializes in one cut and go. He gets his first start since he broke his ankle Dec. 13. That signals he’s ready to assume the 18-20 or so carries Seattle needs to keep Wilson from having to win this game all by his gimpy self. For Rawls, last week’s 12 carries was to break him in for this weekend’s key, featured role.
The pick: Seahawks, 17-13.
3 — Russell Wilson, QB (5-11, 215, fifth season): First time in career his mobility will be limited. How different a QB will that make him?
29 — Earl Thomas, SS (5-10, 202, seventh season): Still getting over his worst game in eons last week. Expect a loud rebound from 3-time All-Pro.
73 — J’Marcus Webb, RG (6-7, 331, seventh season): Needs to be better in faceoff with DT Aaron Donald than he was last week vs. Suh.
6 — Johnny Hekker, P (6-5, 236, fifth season): Yes, the punter. Coach Jeff Fisher has employed him in some tricky, effective ways vs. Seattle.
11 — Tavon Austin, WR (5-8, 176, fourth season): Zooming weapon has run fly sweeps, reverses, bubble screens, more vs. Seattle recently.
30 — Todd Gurley, RB (6-1, 227, second season): NFL’s offensive rookie of the year last year did zilch last week at San Francisco. Will be featured here.