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Redskins in-depth chart: Running back

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Redskins in-depth chart: Running back

The Redskins 90-man offseason roster is set, at least for the time being. Its time to take a look at who they have, who will start, and who will be around when the Sept. 9 opener in New Orleans rolls around.Well start this series off with a look at the offensive backs.QuarterbackStarter: Robert Griffin III
Reserves: Rex Grossman, Kirk Cousins
Fighting for a job: Jonathan CromptonIt took just two sentences by Mike Shanahan at the end of the rookie minicamp to clarify the picture here. He said that Griffin is the starter, period. And he said that with the three quarterbacks weve got right now, I am excited to keep three quarterbacks.That means that both Grossman and Cousins will be on the roster backing up Griffin, not necessarily in that order. It seems likely that Grossman will hold down the No. 2 job at least at the start of the season but the rookie Cousins could jump ahead of Grossman as the season goes on. Crompton is there as a camp arm and in case of injury. He is eligible to return to the practice squad but with three QBs on the 53-man roster that is unlikely to happen.Running backStarter: Roy Helu Jr.
Reserve: Tim Hightower, Evan Royster
Fighting for a job: Alfred Morris, Tristan Davis, Lennon Creer, Antwon BaileyHightower could end up starting or it could be Helu. And it wont matter. The prime running back will be the guy getting the carries in the fourth quarter and we wont know who that is until the fourth quarter of the first game. Even then, it could change from week to week.We wrote extensively about Hightowers possible role here earlier this week.Helu has shown that he has some special ability so he may be the starter regardless of Hightowers status. But Helu wore down when his workload got to be about 25 carries per game late in the season. He needs to carry 15-18 times a game and either Hightower or Royster can spell him.Royster did not get off of the practice squad last year until the 11th game of the season. He responded well with over 100 yards rushing in two late-season games. The rookie averaged 5.9 yards per carry, an impressive number albeit one based on a small sample size of 56 attempts.Morris, a sixth-round draft pick has a very good chance of sticking around if Hightower or another veteran back is not signed and he has a decent chance to make it even if another back is added if he can back up at fullback (see below).Davis, Creer and Bailey have only slim chances of making the roster out of camp. However, there likely will be a running back on the practice squad and the three will be vying for that spot.FullbackStarter: Darrel YoungThats it, at least for right now. There have been rumors of the Redskins looking to sign a veteran fullback but that has yet to happen.Morris did line up at fullback at times during the rookie camp. If he can become a solid option as a backup there, he would greatly enhance his chances of making the team.

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Redskins Playbook: 2017 schedule reveals some good news for Kirk Cousins

Redskins Playbook: 2017 schedule reveals some good news for Kirk Cousins

The Redskins offense performed at a high level in 2016, moving the ball well though the unit struggled in the red zone. Much of the success comes from Kirk Cousins' ability to quickly advance through his progressions and release the football before he takes too many hits.

Expect more of that in 2017, especially early in the season.

The Redskins don't face their first Top 5 sack defense until Week 9 when they travel to Seattle. From there, Cousins will face another Top 5 sack team when the Vikings visit FedEx Field in Week 10. 

After that, Washington's schedule doesn't feature a Top 5 sack defense until nearly Christmas. Unfortunately for Cousins, those two teams will come back to back in December when the Redskins host the Cardinals and the Broncos.

Sacks should not drive too much worry for Redskins fans. The Washington offensive line only allowed 23 sacks last season, two less than the Cowboys vaunted offensive line gave up on Dak Prescott. Cousins quick release and mastery of Jay Gruden's offense helps too. 

The Redskins have plenty to worry about in 2017, though facing fierce sack opponents shouldn't be too high on the list. 

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Need to Know: The top five running backs the Redskins will face in 2017

Need to Know: The top five running backs the Redskins will face in 2017

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, June 25, 32 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond on July 27.

Timeline

The Redskins last played a game 175 days ago; they will open the 2017 season against the Eagles at FedEx Field in 77 days.

Days until:

—Franchise tag contract deadline (7/17) 22
—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 46
—Roster cut to 53 (9/2) 69

The top five running backs the Redskins will face in 2017

Here are the five running backs on the Redskins’ schedule who gained the most yards in 2017. We looked at the top QBs last week.

Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys, 1,631 yards in 2016—The NFL’s leading rusher didn’t pop for a big day against the Redskins as a rookie last year. He still did plenty of damage in two games with a combined 180 yards and three touchdowns. We’ll find out in Week 8 just how much the Redskins’ rushing defense has improved.

David Johnson, Cardinals, 1,239 yards—Yeah, him again. He chewed up the Redskins in Arizona last year, picking up 84 yards rushing and another 91 yards receiving. I think I might pick Johnson over Elliott in a draft simply due to Johnson’s versatility.

LeGarrette Blount, Eagles, 1,161 yards—Blount picked up those yards with the Patriots last year and rushed for 18 touchdowns for good measure. He averaged 3.9 yards per carry, 27th among qualifying running backs. It should be noted that the Eagles probably have a better offensive line than the Patriots do. It’s safe to say Blount is one dimensional; none of the top 50 in rushing yards had fewer than his seven receptions.

Mark Ingram, Saints, 1,043 yards—While Ingram had a good year, the Saints apparently weren’t overly impressed. They signed Adrian Peterson as a free agent and they drafted RB Alvin Kamara in the third round. We’ll have to see who is healthy and on the field in Week 11

Melvin Gordon, Chargers, 997 yards—The 2015 first-round pick missed the last three games and most of another one with an injury. When healthy, he was very effective. His stats projected over 16 games come to over 1,300 yards.

Best of the rest: Carlos Hyde of the 49ers just missed the top five with 988 rushing yards last year Besides Kamara, the only running backs drafted in the first three rounds the Redskins will face are Dalvin Cook (Vikings) and Kareem Hunt (Chiefs). It will be interesting to see if new Rams coach Sean McVay can revive Todd Gurley, who followed a 1,100-yard rookie season with a 4.8 per carry average by gaining 885 yards with a paltry 3.2 average in 2016. Marshawn Lynch comes to town with the Raiders after spending a year in retirement; with the Seahawks, he picked up 111, 72, and 132 on the ground against the Redskins. 

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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