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20 questions in 20 days: 5 Will running back by committee work?

20 questions in 20 days: 5 Will running back by committee work?

By Rich Tandler and Tarik El-Bashir20 questions in 20 daysAs we count down to the first game of the Redskins season, Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler are going to be looking at some of the big questions facing the team and attempting to look into their crystal balls and answer them.Question 5:Will a running back by committee approach work?The background:Ever since Clinton Portis sustained a concussion midway through the 2009 season, the Redskins have not had a workhorse running back. It doesnt look like things are going to change this year. Evan Royster, Roy Helu Jr., and Alfred Morris all have their strong points but none of them has demonstrated the ability to tote the rock 20 times a game, week in and week out. That means that all three of them will have to carry the load if the Redskins are going to be successful running the ball.Tandler:The workhorse back is becoming a thing of the past in what has become a passing league. Neither Super Bowl participant had a runner with as many as 200 carries. While it may be nice to have a prime back like Ray Rice (291 rushing attempt) or Frank Gore (292), its not necessary to win. Having a productive running game is still important but having one back get the lions share of the carries is not. What the Redskins need is a change of approach. Since Portis faded from the scene they have run with one back until he was injured or became ineffective and then switched to the next guy. What Mike and Kyle Shanahan need to do is come up with a plan to rotate the backs, play to their strengths, and keep them fresh and healthy. A planned running back by committee approach will work; riding one back until he drops and then saddling up the next one will not.El-Bashir:Although we dont know how the Shanahans plan to deploy their stable of running backs, it appears the coaching staff is leaning toward utilizing all three -- and for good reason. Royster is rugged and instinctive. Helu is elusive, a decent receiver and an effective pass protector. Morris makes one cut and hes gone. While none is of the featured back variety, the trio could form a potent combination, particularly if opposing defenses become preoccupied with the possibility of quarterback Robert Griffin III taking off with the ball as well. But there are concerns. Royster, Helu and Morris have a grand total of seven NFL starts between them. Another is health. Royster missed time in the preseason with knee and neck ailments, while Helu was sidelined with two sore Achilles tendons. Considering both were hobbled by injuries at various points last season, too, its a major concern.20 questions in 20 days20 Aug.20Will Jammal Brown play this year?
19 Aug.21Will Chris Cooley make the team?
18 Aug. 22Can Brandon Meriweather get he job done at safety?
17 Aug. 23Is Garon a No. 1 receiver?
16 Aug. 24Can Trent Williams go from good to great?
15 Aug. 25Can DeAngelo Hall be a defensive playmaker?
14 Aug. 26Can Santana Moss regain his old form?
13 Aug. 27Can Orakpo post 15 sacks?
12 Aug. 28Will Leonard Hankerson break out?
11 Aug. 29Can the Redskins flip their turnover ratio?
10 Aug. 30How much can Hightower contribute this year?
9 Aug. 31Was making Billy Cundiff the kicker a good move?
8 Sept. 1Will Josh Morgan be worth the investment?
7 Sept. 2What can Jarvis Jenkins contribute?
6 YesterdayIs the offensive line depth good enough?
5 TodayWill a running back by committee work?
4 TomorrowShould we expect a sophomore slump from Ryan Kerrigan?
3 ThursdayHow many wins is enough?
2 FridayHow much should RG3 run?
1 SaturdayCan RG3 . . . ?

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New Redskins center Sullivan says he'll be ready quickly

New Redskins center Sullivan says he'll be ready quickly

It’s a story that happens all around the NFL every week. Players get injured on Sunday, calls go out to veterans on Monday, they try out and sign on Tuesday. Then the hard work of learning a new team’s system begins, a task that is especially tough when the new player is a center with all of the protection and other calls that have to come from that position. Other than quarterback it’s the toughest transition in the NFL.

But new Redskins center John Sullivan doesn’t seem to be that worried about it.

“It just takes time to get calls down,” said the former Viking. “Essentially, most football’s the same. There are certain changes here and there I’ve played in a few systems so there’s some carry over more from the first system I was in in Minnesota. But it’s just getting Bill [Callahan’s] calls down, Bill’s techniques, all that stuff. The guys are helping me along and Bill is doing a good job so I think I’ll have them pretty quick.”

Sullivan certainly has a lot of experience in football. From 2008-2014 he started 93 of a possible 96 games at center for the Vikings. But he missed all of the 2015 season after having back surgery. He returned to Minnesota this year but he was released on August 30. He says his health hasn’t been an issue going back to the start of offseason work in April.

“At that point, you get through a couple of days not feeling any restrictions and you start to really forget about it,” he said.

Now it’s time for the crash course in Gruden/McVay/Callahan Offense 101.

“I feel like I’m back in training camp, trying to learn an offense, spending a lot of time here at the facility and staying in a hotel room close by,” said Sullivan. “It’s a little bit different but it’s exciting all the same.”

It remains to be seen what role Sullivan will play. With Kory Lichtensteiger out for at least eight weeks the starting center job is vacant. Spencer Long can start there and he may be the long-term answer at the position. But while left guard Shawn Lauvao is sidelined with an ankle injury the logical move is to have Long, who started 13 games at left guard last year, play there. That would open up center for Sullivan.

Stay tuned. For strategic reasons there is no reason for Gruden to announce anything about his starting offensive line in advance of when the offense takes the field for the first time against the Browns. We may not know until then.

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Don't mess with Trent Williams. Seriously. Watch this video.

Don't mess with Trent Williams. Seriously. Watch this video.

Long considered one of the toughest dudes in the NFL, video of Redskins left tackle Trent Williams proves it's unwise to mess with 71. The video from @Hogs2.0 shows Williams sparring in a boxing ring, and looking quite spry.

It's unclear when the video was shot, though the tweet was posted Wednesday night. 

As for Williams, he's coming off his fourth straight Pro Bowl season at left tackle and has started all three games for the Redskins this season. In last Sunday's win over the Giants, injuries forced Williams to move to left guard, an unusual move. Washington coach Jay Gruden said after the game that Williams did so well at guard that it would be "tempting" to keep him there as the 'Skins wait for Shawn Lauvao to mend.

Regardless where he lands on the offensive line, it's no surprise to see Williams looking quite effective in the boxing ring. Whenever an altercation seems close on the football field for Washington, Williams is usually not far from the action. And of course there is the infamous head-smush Williams gave Richard Sherman after the playoff loss to Seattle at the end of the 2012 season.

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