One day after Coach Mike Shanahan said Tim Hightower is nearing a returning to practice, the Redskins starting tailback confirmed that his surgically repaired knee is fine, ready.People ask me what percent I am all the time, Hightower said Wednesday morning. I dont know. Ive never been through this. But I know I feel good.I can make every cut, he added. I can run. I dont feel any restrictions or limitations. At this point, its just a matter of going out there and getting repetitions. The only way to get better a football is by playing football. Thats the next step for me.On Tuesday, Shanahan said Hightower, who missed the final 11 games last season after tearing the ACL in his left knee in October, could begin taking reps in team drills as soon as Friday. Shanahan also hinted the Hightower could suit up for the third or fourth preseason game.When they feel comfortable putting me out there, then theyll do that and Ill be ready to go, said Hightower, who added that he hasnt been told when exactly hell be cleared to participate fully in practice. But the knee is fine.Hightower is listed on the depth chart as the Redskins starting tailback. Hes also the teams top pass-catcher out of the backfield, best blocker and most experienced running back. But hes also aware that hes competing for playing time with second-year players Evan Royster and Roy Helu Jr., as well as emerging rookie Alfred Morris.For me, I get excited when I see guys like that doing well, Hightower said of the crowded backfield. It pushes me and encourages me to stay on top of my stuff.Whenever Hightower does return, he said his goal is to be more prominent on and off the field than he was before the injury.I dont want to be the player I was; I want to be better, he said. This team needs me to be better. I need to be more vocal, be a better leader, to be more productive. I want to be better for this team. If everybody on this team is as good as they were last year, we wont be good enough.
When Terrance Knighton signed with the Patriots this offseason, word was the Redskins tried to talk him into staying in Washington up until the last minute. The man affectionately known as "Pot Roast" gave the 'Skins some good play at nose tackle in 2015, and the team and fans liked Knighton. But the big man with 96 career starts in seven years as a pro chose to go home to New England.
The Redskins, however, may get the chance to bring back Knighton after all.
Well it's been real New England. The road continues— Terrance Knighton (@MisterRoast98) August 29, 2016
Knighton has dealt with weight issues throughout his NFL career as well as debilating cluster headaches that forced him to miss games and practice time. In 2015, Knighton played well at times for the Redskins, but was not the high-impact player that he demonstrated with the Broncos in 2014. With the Redskins, Pro Football Focus rated Knighton at +5.7, good, but down significantly from his +18.7 in Denver in 2014.
MORE REDSKINS: WHO WILL MAKE THE 53-MAN ROSTER?
That said, Knighton would likely be a welcome addition for Washington. The team lacks a true nose tackle, and at 6-foot-2 and 300 lbs., Knighton fits the role well. Further, Knighton knows the players - especially his best friend from childhood Chris Baker - the coaches and the scheme.
Stopping the run cold be a problem for Washington this fall, and while Pot Roast will not change that on his own, he can be a good piece of a defensive line rotation. That assumes, though, that Knighton is in shape and ready to play. Pro Football Focus shows that Knighton has played 36 snaps this preseason, though he did not play New England's last preseason game against the Panthers.
The process of acquiring Bryan Stork has not been easy. After agreeing to a trade with New England for a conditional seventh-round pick, the former Patriots center was unsure if he wanted to be traded to the Redskins. Saturday, Stork relented, and said he looked forward to coming to Washington.
His stay won't last long. Chris Cooley reported the news first.
Bryan Stork fails Redskins physical this morning. His rights will revert back to New England Patriots. Redskins get conditional pick back— Chris Cooley (@thecooleyzone) August 29, 2016
Stork's failed physical means the Redskins will not get the boost to their interior offensive line the club hoped for when they made the trade for the former Florida State center. Kory Lichtensteiger had a rough game Friday night in a win over the Bills, and while the veteran center likely would have retained his starting spot even with Stork on the team, GM Scot McCloughan preaches competition at every position. Stork's arrival would have brought that. Good news for Washington is that the team will get back their draft pick.
MORE REDSKINS: WHO WILL MAKE THE 53-MAN ROSTER?
For Stork, this could signal the end of the line. With four concussions in two seasons and now a failed physical, it makes sense why the 25-year-old was so seriously contemplating retirement after just two seasons in the league.
As a rookie in 2014, Stork started 11 games and played in a Super Bowl. The 2015 season Stork was limited to just six starts. The trend for 2016 looks like even less.
With running back Keith Marshall out for at least three weeks after suffering a sprained elbow and the roster cut looming, the Redskins’ coaches are going to have some tough decisions to make. Marshall’s hopes of making the team’s 53-man roster may fall victim to bad timing.
All NFL rosters must be cut to 53 players by Saturday. Matt Jones and Chris Thompson are locks to be two of the running backs. It looks like Robert Kelley, who took advantage of the opportunity that he had when Marshall went out against the Bills, is a strong favorite to claim a third spot.
Will the Redskins carry a fourth running back? If they do, will it be Marshall? That would be tough to do. With the season opener against the Steelers coming up two weeks from today they would have to carry an injured running back for at least the first two regular season games and possibly longer depending on the results of the reevaluation. With Jones recovering from an AC joint sprain, Thompson best suited to the third down role, and Kelley unproven the Redskins would need someone who could be of more immediate help. That means perhaps keeping Mack Brown on the roster, or picking up a back on waivers from another team.
And beyond the three-week window, the Redskins have to be concerned about Marshall’s durability. He lasted until the seventh round in the draft due to his difficulties staying on the field when he was at Georgia. Do the Redskins want to stretch their roster numbers to keep him on when his history says that he could end up out with another injury soon after that?
If Marshall had been stellar in practice or if he had been a preseason star (he wasn’t, with 16 carries for 28 yards, an average of 1.8 yards/carry) it might be a more difficult decision. But he wasn’t, so it’s hard to see the Redskins jumping through hoops to keep him around for the 2016 season.
However, they may want to keep him for future seasons. Sometimes in an NFL environment players learn how to take better care of their bodies and how to avoid getting injured. Perhaps they will put Marshall on injured reserve, have him spend the season and the 2017 offseason around the facility, and let him give it a go next year.