Veteran Allen having ball as Redskins' go-to runner NFL's top ground-gainer is staying busy, loving it

September 22, 1996|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

Washington Redskins quarterback Gus Frerotte threw the ball to eight different receivers last Sunday against the New York Giants, but when it came time to hand it off, there was little doubt whom he was going to.

Terry Allen, the NFL's leading rusher, ran the ball so often last week that even Redskins coach Norv Turner wondered if he had gone to his top back too often (27 rushes for 146 yards).

"You watch the film and maybe Terry carried too many times," said Turner, who used Allen on eight runs in the fourth quarter when Washington was ahead, 24-10.

"When do you take a running back out, anyway? A 14-point lead with six minutes left isn't even safe. I was the first guy accused of taking Emmitt Smith out too early in Dallas. Every time I took him out, I was asked why I did it. Didn't I know he could have broken this or that record?"

Turner said as long as he has been around football, the big questions about running backs have been, "When is enough enough and when are you risking too many injuries?"

"It only comes up when you're winning, so I hope it continues for me," he said.

Turner said he could sit down with his staff and come up with a plan on how many times Allen should run the ball, but "those numbers always seem to go out the window when a game starts."

So look for Allen to keep on lugging the ball as many times as it takes today to beat the St. Louis Rams in a 1 p.m. meeting at the Trans World Dome.

Allen has vaulted into the NFL rushing lead with 340 yards on 67 carries, and his four touchdowns have tied him with Green Bay's Keith Jackson for the NFC lead and are second in the NFL to Miami rookie Karim Abdul-Jabbar's five scores.

Allen is on a pace for 1,800 yards, which most likely would earn him his first Pro Bowl trip in seven years in the league (his first five were with the Minnesota Vikings, and included two years on the injured reserve list).

He's loving every minute of this season, and isn't thinking too far ahead.

"I'm just doing my job," said Allen. "It's still early in the season and if we continue to do what we're doing, then there's a good chance [the Pro Bowl] could happen."

If Turner should decide to give Allen more rest during games, the coach will turn to rookie Stephen Davis, a 6-foot, 230-pound rookie running back out of Auburn.

Davis dashed 39 yards for a touchdown Sunday against the Giants with 1: 35 left in the game, accounting for the final touchdown in the 31-10 win.

"As we move through the season, I think you'll see Stephen give Terry a rest," said Turner. "Having [Davis] play the way he did gives you confidence."

Washington (2-1) at St. Louis (1-1)

Time: 1 p.m., chs. 45, 5.

Line: Rams by 2.

Record vs. spread: Redskins 2-1; Rams 1-1.

Series record: Redskins, 16-5-1.

Last meeting: Redskins won, 35-23, at St. Louis in '95.

Last week: Redskins beat Giants, 31-10; Rams had bye.

Outlook: Game represents opportunity for Redskins to record first three-game win streak under Norv Turner and make some hay in NFC East. After blasting Giants last week, Redskins should be confident. They're getting great production from RB Terry Allen, who has two 100-yard games and leads NFL with 340 rushing yards. Rams sticking with QB Steve Walsh (15-for-41 passing).

By the numbers: Washington's plus-7 turnover ratio is second-best in NFL. . . . St. Louis' Isaac Bruce has 29-game pass-reception streak.

Injuries:

REDSKINS: Out: WR Michael Westbrook (knee). Doubtful: WR Billy Williams (shoulder). Questionable: TE Aaron Lang (neck). Probable: TE Jamie Asher (shoulder), DT Marc Boutte (knee), LB Al Catanho (shoulder), S Leomont Evans (knee), G Tre Johnson (knee), DE Sterling Palmer (knee), C Cory Raymer (calf).

RAMS: Probable: DT Jon Kirksey (knee), WR Alexander Wright (knee).

Statistical comparison:

.................... Pts. ..... Yds. rush ... Yds. pass ... TO ... Sacks

Washington, Off. ... 18.3 ..... 149.0 ....... 164.3 ....... 0.6 .. 2.3

........... Def. ... 10.0 ..... 132.0 ....... 219.3 ....... 3.0 .. 3.7

St. Louis, Off. .... 13.0 ..... 53.0 ........ 134.0 ....... 3.5 .. 4.5

.......... Def. .... 25.0 ..... 83.5 ........ 225.0 ....... 2.5 .. 2.5

Pub Date: 9/22/96

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