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2017 Redskins depth chart preview: Running back

2017 Redskins depth chart preview: Running back

The Redskins are part of the way through the process of retooling their 2017 roster. While the major part of free agency is over, they still can add a few veterans all the way through training camp. They have 10 picks in the draft that starts April 27. In this series, we’re going to take a look at what has changed on the Redskins roster since the season ended and what they need to add to remain competitive in the revived NFC East.

This series started on defense and you can see all those posts here. On offense we’ve pu the wide receivers and tight ends under the microscope. Today the focus turns to the running backs.

2016 final game starter: Rob Kelley

You know the story here. An undrafted free agent, a surprise inclusion on the 53-man roster and the unquestioned starter by midseason.  

Departures: None

Projected 2017 starter: Kelley

Jay Gruden has stated a couple of times that Kelley will line up with the first team when the offseason program gets to that point. In his nine starts he ran for 601 yards with an average of 4.0 yards per carry and six touchdowns. In 16 games that projects to a shade over 1,000 yards and 11 TD’s.

That’s good production for a back on a pass-first team, which is now the Redskins’ identity. If they want to run more, however, the might look at a back in the draft. More on that in a bit.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 9.0

2017 reserves: Chris Thompson, Matt Jones, Mack Brown, Keith Marshall

Thompson stayed healthy for 16 games for the first time in his career and it’s no coincidence that he had career highs in both rushing yards and receiving yards. He will remain the third-down back.

MORE REDSKINS: What will they do with pick No. 17?  

Brown had a good preseason and he broke off a 61-yard run near the end of the Bears game. Marshall will have to show that he can stay healthy; his speed is intriguing but he needs to be available.

Jones was the unquestioned starter all offseason last year and he had his moments in the seven games he started. But fumbling problems and other issues quickly got him buried on the bench. In fact, he was a healthy inactive the last eight games of the season. Gruden neglected to even mention him when going through the running backs on the roster when he met with reporters at the NFL meetings last month. He has the physical tools to be a solid contributor but he has to straighten out his issues.

Where can the running backs find improvement?

If Kelley maintains his 1,000-yard pace from last year and plays in 16 games that would be a positive development but it wouldn’t really represent much progress over last year. Jones also was on a 1,000-yard pace over his seven starts.

And, let’s face it, a back gaining 1,000 yards isn’t a very big accomplishment. Last year 12 backs ran for 1,000 and three others came within 50 yards of doing so, meaning that almost half of the teams in the league had one. If the Redskins are truly going to bolster their running game they likely will have to spend a high draft pick to get a back who can run for 1,200-1,400 yards and be a threat to take the ball to the house on any play, a back like Dalvin Cook or Christian McCaffrey. Or, they can roll with what they have and remain a pass-first offense, which could well be Gruden’s inclination anyway.

Locks and bubble players

Kelley and Thompson are the only locks. The rest of them had better work hard and hold on to the ball. And if they use a high draft pick on a running back, Jones, Brown, and Murray all could be gone.

Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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One surprising stat that puts Vernon Davis at top of NFL tight ends

One surprising stat that puts Vernon Davis at top of NFL tight ends

Vernon Davis played well in 2016, quite well in fact. Signed to a one-year deal after a poor 2015 season, expectations were low for Davis and he over-delivered.

He ended the season with 44 catches and 583 yards to go with two touchdowns, but a stat from Pro Football Focus truly stands out. 

There were 15 tight ends with more yards than Davis, including one on his own team in Jordan Reed. Still, at age 32, Davis had the moves to make defenders miss. 

ROSTER BATTLES: Left guard | Tight end Nickel cornerback  | Inside linebacker | Running back

Even early in 2016, as early as training camp, a number of Redskins players mentioned that Davis still had speed and quickness. That didn't change throughout the 16 game season. Pro Football Focus just quantified it. 

<<<NFL POWER RANKINGS: WHO GOT BETTER AFTER THE DRAFT>>>

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Terrelle Pryor has no problem keeping up with Antonio Brown during offseason workout

Terrelle Pryor has no problem keeping up with Antonio Brown during offseason workout

Having a workout buddy is good. Having a workout buddy who's a three-time All-Pro and who churns out 100-catch seasons like Michael Bay churns out dreadful Transformers sequels, however, is better.

It's that second kind that Terrelle Pryor has chosen to spend time with recently. On Thursday, the Redskins wideout tweeted footage of him working out alongside Antonio Brown, and even though he is much taller and 40+ pounds heavier than the Steelers star, Pryor didn't have that much trouble keeping up with the NFL's top outside threat.

MORE REDSKINS: POSITION PREVIEW - HOW WILL THE RECEIVERS FARE?

Take a look at this race between the two, for instance, in which the pair of pass-catchers blow by the camera man so quickly, he fails to film the contest's conclusion:

You can also watch Pryor and Brown go through a ladder drill while wearing a band around their ankles at the end of this video from the Redskins. Now, that band would likely cause some problems for common folk trying to complete the drill, but as these two show, they aren't common:

They even found time for yoga (please be sure to note how Pryor's groutfit is so thorough that it includes his mat): 

For a guy like Pryor — who's still relatively new to his position — spending offseason time with Antonio Brown could really pay off for both him and the Redskins in 2017.

RELATED: KIRK COUSINS HAS 14TH BEST ODDS TO WIN NFL MVP