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Get ready for running back by committee


Get ready for running back by committee

The folks at Pro Football Weekly are hearing whispers that Tim Hightower has the inside track to be the Redskins starting running back this year.They say that Roy Helu Jr will be a 10-15 snap player due to durability concerns and that Evan Royster lacks the speed to be anything but a situational back. Well look at those issues in a minute but first lets look at Hightower as a workhorse back.Coming into 2010, Hightower had carried the ball 14 or more times in a game six times during his three-year NFL career. In his first three games with the Redskins he carries 25, 20, and 14 times. A shoulder injury limited him to eight carries the next week and kept him out of the next game, which came after the bye week. That was the first game he had missed since coming into the league.In Week 7 he was on his way to another heavy workload with 17 carries before he suffered a torn ACL that ended his season.One could conclude that the Cardinals, his previous NFL team, was using him properly, starting him frequently (36 starts in three seasons in Arizona) but limiting his workload. With the caveat that five games is a small sample size and that the shoulder and knee injuries could happen to anyone, its possible that the Redskins gave Hightower too heavy a workload.The same could be true for Helu. He played over 50 snaps in each of the games from Weeks 12-15 and then had to sit out the Week 16 Vikings game with an assortment of ailments. He was limited to 11 snaps in the season finale against the Eagles. It looks like his workload should be limited but dropping him down to 10-15 snaps per game, as PFW suggests,Royster ran a pedestrian 4.64 in the 40 at the combine (compared to a 4.42 for Helu) so there is solid evidence to back up lack of speed rap. But he did have two 100-yard games in the last three weeks and he averaged 5.9 yards per carry. He many not have been running very fast last year but he was getting somewhere.What all of this means is that the era of the workhorse running back in Washington is over, at least for now. You have three backs all of whom have some skills but none of whom can be the prime back in the way that John Riggins, Clinton Portis, Stephen Davis, and others were.The running back committee will emerge either by choice or by circumstances. Last year Kyle and Mike Shanahan basically worked their backs until they couldnt go any more. That forced other backs into action.If they try that again this year, they are likely to have the same result. If they plan out a rotation they might have some more backs standing by the end of the year.Rich Tandler blogs about the Redskins at www.RealRedskins.com. You can reach him by email here and follow him on Twitter @Rich_Tandler.

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Jay Gruden squashes perception that Alabama defenders don't produce in NFL

Jay Gruden squashes perception that Alabama defenders don't produce in NFL

Alabama dominates college football in a way few teams ever have. In the last two seasons, the Crimson Tide has lost just two games, winning one national title and narrowly missing a second.

The strength of 'Bama, year after year, is their defense. Nick Saban coaches it, Nick Saban knows it, and Nick Saban demands the best from his players. 

Oddly, however, a few recent Alabama defenders drafted to the NFL have not produced. Or at least their production did not match their draft status. 

It's not too hard to pick names that fit that perception. Rolando McClain. Terrence Cody. Dre Kirkpatrick. And at running back, Trent Richardson didn't help.

Still, the Redskins invested heavily in the Tide during the 2017 draft. Their top two picks played for Saban's defense last year, and Washington coach Jay Gruden does not buy any part of the perception that 'Bama products regress in the NFL.

"I don’t see any negative whatsoever with them going to Alabama," Gruden said late Friday night.

The 'Skins selected Jonathan Allen in the first round and Ryan Anderson in the second. Both guys started on the Tide's front seven, and both players dominated.

"They come there and they are well coached. Anytime you watch college football, and you watch other defenses, no disrespect, and then you flip on an Alabama game, it’s different," Gruden said. "The speed is different. They are well-coached, they are in their gaps, they play hard, they play physical, and that’s from Week 1 until the end. That has to appeal to you as a coach. They are using their hands, they are physical, they are chasing the ball, they are running to the ball."

The perception, right or wrong, has two main positions. The first is that the Alabama defense looks so good because it is full of five-star recruits. When everyone is good, or great, on the college level, it's hard to truly judge any singular player's game tape. The second is that Saban is so exhausting, so demanding of his players, they arrive to the NFL with too many reps.

For those around the NFL, both theories are laughable. Pro scouts know game tape. How else can they judge a future first rounder when he matches up against a walk-on? And for every alleged 'Bama bust, think about Ha Ha Clinton-Dix or Landon Collins or C.J. Mosley or Dont'a Hightower. 

Might some Tide players get overdrafted because of their success and high profile? That's a different conversation. What's certain is the Redskins are quite confident in both of their Alabama draft picks.

"We know they are both highly intelligent guys. They understand football, understand X’s and O’s and they both play very hard with a high motor and they are well-coached."


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Redskins draft oft-injured Auburn CB Joshua Holsey with their final pick


Redskins draft oft-injured Auburn CB Joshua Holsey with their final pick

The Redskins haven't shied away from using draft picks on players with an injury history, and that trend continued all the way to their final pick of the draft with Auburn CB Joshua Holsey.

Holsey missed parts of the 2013 and 2015 seasons at Auburn due to torn ACLs, but rebounded with a strong season in 2016. He had 30 tackles, three interceptions and 10 passes defended in his senior season.


He was overlooked through most of the draft process due to his injury history and was snubbed at the combine. 

The seventh round is a spot to take a flier on a guy who has some traits you like, and this certainly fits the bill with the pick of Joshua Holsey.