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Need to Know: Who replaces Helu as the Redskins' No. 2 running back?

Need to Know: Who replaces Helu as the Redskins' No. 2 running back?

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, March 16, 45 days before the Washington Redskins go on the clock at the NFL draft.

Question of the day

A few days a week I’ll give an in-depth answer to a question submitted by a fan on my Twitter feed, via the Real Redskins Facebook page, or in the comments section here. On Twitter address the questions to me at @Rich_TandlerCSN with the #NTK hashtag. There will be a comment thread set up on the Facebook page and if you’re asking your question here, put “for NTK” at the start of the comment.

Today’s question is from Twitter:

https://twitter.com/JFry555/status/577224336249131009

One question to a customer, my friend. We'll look at the third-down back situation here.

Given Roy Helu’s subpar pass blocking skills, running back may have been a need even if he had not signed with Oakland. It’s apparent that the Redskins did not consider him to be a major priority given the modest two-year, $4 million contract he got from the Raiders.

Helu has been the third-down/relief running back for the last two years so regardless of whether they wanted him or not, he’s gone and the team needs a replacement. So let’s go back to something we had some fun with a few weeks ago. Let’s say that we have $100 in poker chips to bet on each of the possible replacements for Helu. I’ll spread them out according to my current assessment of the chances of each to have that role in Week 1 of the regular season.

Silas Redd $35—The coaches like his work ethic and his ability. Redd, who made the team as a rookie free agent last year, displayed a good aptitude for catching the ball out of the backfield. But can he pass block well enough to nail down the role?

Chris Thompson $25—There are plenty of doubts about Thompson, including his blocking and his ability to stay healthy. But there are no doubts about his speed and if he can get the other aspects of his game together it will be hard for the coaches to keep him off of the field.

Draft pick $25—A running back like Melvin Gordon could well be the best player on the board when the Redskins’ pick in the second round comes around. Ditto for T.J. Yeldon in the third or fourth. I’m not sure that a back taken later in the day on Saturday would be ready for Week 1 action; an Alfred Morris only comes along once a decade or so.

Free agent $15—Pierre Thomas, formerly of the Saints, is 30 and may be just a one-year solution but he is a capable runner, receiver, and blocker. The remaining veteran free agent options either have had injury problems (Ahmad Bradshaw) or appear to be out of gas (Steven Jackson).

Timeline

—It’s been 78 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be about 181 days until they play another one.

Days until: Redskins offseason workouts start 35; 2015 NFL Draft 45; Redskins training camp starts 136

If you have any questions about what's going on at Redskins Park, hit me up in the comments. And I'm always on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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In case you missed it

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Redskins-Cardinals injury report: Reed out, seven questionable

Redskins-Cardinals injury report: Reed out, seven questionable

Redskins

Out

TE Jordan Reed (shoulder)—The word heroic is thrown around too often when talking about what athletes do, in light if what, say, first responders do every day. But Reed playing in the second half out of the Dallas game with a third-degree AC joint sprain certainly was remarkable. But Gruden said that Reed won’t have sufficient range of motion in the shoulder or range of motion to be able to go against the Cardinals.

DE Anthony Lanier (leg)—The reserve lineman missed the second half of the Dallas game with a leg contusion. Gruden said he was kicked in the lower leg against the Cowboys and the swelling is still an issue.

Questionable

LS Nick Sundberg (back)—He tweaked his back in the weight room before the Packers game and missed that game and the one against the Cowboys. He was a full go in practice all week and will return against the Cardinals.

G Brandon Scherff (ankle)—He has been limited in practice during the week but it seems certain that he will go against the Cardinals.

T Ty Nsekhe (ankle)—Ditto comment on Scherff above.

CB Bashaud Breeland (ankle)—He suffered the injury in practice this week and he was limited in practice on Thursday.

RB Chris Thompson (illness)—He was limited in practice during the week but he said in the locker room he will have his usual role on Sunday.

Also questionable for the Redskins: ILB Terence Garvin (shoulder) and DE Ricky Jean Francois (knee)

Cardinals

Check back for the Cardinals injury update after they release their report later this afternoon.

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Jordan Reed ruled out for Redskins vs. Cardinals; Vernon Davis set for start

Jordan Reed ruled out for Redskins vs. Cardinals; Vernon Davis set for start

After separating his shoulder against the Cowboys on Thanksgiving, Jordan Reed has officially been ruled out for the Redskins game in Arizona. 

Friday, coach Jay Gruden said Reed doesn't have sufficient range of motion to play against the Cardinals but remains hopeful he'll be healthy for the following game against the Eagles. Reed estimated that range was at about 30 percent Monday.

The decision to sit Reed against the Cardinals comes with little surprise. The 'Skins star tight end did not practice all week, even after having a few extra days to rest after the game last Thursday.

Playing without Reed is obviously a blow to the Washington offense, but No. 2 tight end Vernon Davis has been a strong development for Gruden's team this year. Thursday, Gruden and offensive coordinator Sean McVay said that while losing Reed is a blow to the unit, the team can run almost all of the same plays and sets with Davis that they can with Reed. 

"Fortunately you’re in a situation where you feel really good about your tight end in Vernon Davis where he’s playing at an extremely high level in both phases in the run and in the pass game," McVay said.

As good as Davis has been, he's not the dynamic threat Reed presents. In the second half against Dallas — while playing with the injured shoulder — Reed hauled in two touchdowns and played arguably the best football of his career.

On the season Reed has 59 catches for 630 yards and five touchdowns despite missing two games earlier this year dealing with a concussion.

Davis has played in all 11 games this season and has 31 catches for 450 yards and two TDs. 

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