Redskins Training Camp Preview: Running Back
Today we begin our annual survey of the Redskins roster, seeking to determine which players are most likely to make the final 2013 team and which are not. We will look at every position on the roster and today we start with Running Back.
ON THE ROSTER: Tristan Davis, Roy Helu, Jr., Jawan Jamison, Alfred Morris, Evan Royster, Chris Thompson, Keiland Williams
LIKELY TO KEEP: 4
STARTER: Alfred Morris
ON THE BUBBLE: Roy Helu, Jr, Jawan Jamison, Evan Royster, Chris Thompson, Keiland Williams
LONG SHOT: Tristan Davis
ANALYSIS: Running back should be one of the most wide-open competitions on the roster during training camp and the preseason. This is the second straight year this has been true, but the odd part this time is that we already know who the starter will be. Alfred Morris, second in the NFL in rushing last year and holder of the franchise record for rushing yards in a single season, is the unquestioned leader of this pack. What we don’t know is what happens after Morris.
Keiland Williams is back for another shot with the team, having made it before and been cut before. He’s a versatile and dependable back who won’t make a lot of guys miss or break big runs. That’s also a fair description of Evan Royster, who perhaps runs a bit harder than Williams, but is not quite as nifty out of the backfield. Barring injuries to other backs, it is difficult to see both Royster and Williams making the team.
Roy Helu seems like an ideal backup to Morris because he’s quicker than the starter and a far more reliable receiver out of the backfield, thus providing a nice change of pace to Morris. However, Offensive Coordinator Kyle Shanahan has stated he’s not looking for a change of pace back as a backup, he just wants the most productive running backs he can find, whether their skill sets complement Morris’ or not. Nevertheless, the Redskisn will want to throw to their running backs from time to time and Helu, who set the franchise record with 14 catches in one game in 2011, as a rookie, is the best receiver in the bunch.
Thompson, the rookie 5th rounder, is a good bet to make the team if he stays healthy. He’s the fastest of the bunch, with top-end speed and a knack for making the big run. He’s also got experience working in a read-option offense so he should pick up the playbook relatively easily. Jamison is the other rookie, taken in the 7th round, and he’s got the body type to succeed in the NFL. He doesn’t have Thompson’s elite speed and playmaking ability, but he has a far better track record when it comes to health.
PREDICTION: Morris starts, of course, and backup jobs are won by Helu, Royster and Thompson. Jamison gets stashed on the practice squad and Davis and Williams try to catch on somewhere else.