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Will the Redskins go to running back by committee?

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Will the Redskins go to running back by committee?

The Redskins’ ranked 19th in the NFL in yards gained last year and their 4.2 yards per carry ranked 15th. That’s not good enough for a team that is as unsettled as the Redskins are at quarterback. Whether it’s Robert Griffin III behind center or Kirk Cousins or Colt McCoy, the QB will benefit greatly from a running game that is better than something right around the league average.

So there will be changes in way they do things. One is a more power-oriented ground game. The other may be some form of running back by committee.

“The running game nowadays, you need to have a couple of guys that can tote it,” Jay Gruden told Kevin Sheehan and Thom Loverro on ESPN 980 earlier this week. “Sixteen games is a long time, that’s a lot of games, a lot of carries, that’s a lot of hits on these running backs.”

Gruden said that he would like to split up the carries more than he did last year, when he went with what was mostly a one-back attack. Alfred Morris had 265 rushing attempts. The other tailbacks on the roster, Roy Helu, Silas Redd, and Chris Thompson, combined for 59 rushing attempts. That is 82 percent of the carries for Morris, 18 percent for the rest.

In his three years as the offensive coordinator with the Bengals, Gruden spread the workload in different ways in different seasons. In 2012 he had BenJarvus Green-Ellis take 80 percent of the tailback rushing attempts. But in 2011 it was a 70-30 split between Cedric Benson and Bernard Scott. And in 2013 Cincinnati drafted Giovani Bernard and gave him 170 carries to 220 for Green-Ellis (that’s a 56-44 split in percentage terms).

So maybe splitting up the running back carries isn’t so much a matter of philosophy for Gruden as much as doing things the way the quality of his stable of running backs dictates. He told Sheehan and Loverro that he will see who can earn the carries that Morris won’t get.

“I think you give Alfred the bulk of [the carries] and then Matt Jones comes in there, it could be Chris Thompson, it could be Silas Redd,” he said. “We’ll see how camp goes to see who deserves the carries, who’s going to get the carries. They have to prove then can protect the ball, No. 1, and prove they can pick up blitzes, No. 2 and then they will get some carries behind Alfred.”

Redd and Thompson are holdovers from last year but they have combined for only 25 career rushing attempts. Jones was the team’s third-round pick in this year’s draft.

Most backs come into the NFL with some innate ability to run the football. But it’s learning to do the other necessary, less glamorous work that separates an NFL running back from a guy who can find a hole and pick up some yards. If Gruden can find another running back or two we might see more of a running back by committee approach than we have seen with this team in the past.

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A possible trade destination for Redskins RB Matt Jones?

A possible trade destination for Redskins RB Matt Jones?

RICHMOND—The Redskins reportedly have been looking to trade running back Matt Jones since just before the draft. They may be able to find a partner just up I-95.

The Baltimore Ravens are in need of a running back after Kenneth Dixon suffered a season-ending knee injury earlier this week. Terrance West, who gained 774 yards on the ground last year, is healthy and returning but the Ravens want more depth at the position.

That is where Jones could come into play. The 2015 third-round pick of the Redskins was the unquestioned starter going into last season. But fumbling and other issues prompted Jay Gruden to make him inactive the last nine games of the season. Jones further fell out of favor by skipping OTAs this year, a move he made on the advice of his now-former agent.

RELATED: Is Cousins overrated?

Ravens coach Jim Harbaugh said last year that he liked Jones “a lot” in the 2015 draft and he could well still be intrigued by his size and speed. ESPN Ravens reporter Jamison Hensley said that Jones could be a good fit for the Ravens in their current situation.

It should be noted that Hensley seems to be engaging in informed speculation and not relaying anything he heard from the team’s decision makers. He also speaks of the possibility of Baltimore picking up Jones after the Redskins release him.

But there could be some incentive for the Ravens to talk trade with the Redskins rather than waiting for Jones to hit the waiver wire. For one thing, getting their new back in sooner rather than later would benefit the Ravens, allowing the player to get acclimated to his new quarterback and offensive line. While the Redskins are inevitably going to cut Jones, they have no incentive to do so before the final cuts just before the start of the season. Perhaps the Ravens will want to give up some minor compensation, something like a swap of sixth- and seventh-round picks, to get Jones in for the start of training camp.

MORE REDSKINS: Ranking the Redskins roster, the final update

Hensley also mentions the possibility that the Ravens will look at former Redskin Alfred Morris for depth at running back. He currently is buried on the Cowboys’ depth chart behind All-Pro Ezekiel Elliott and Darren McFadden. However, there is the possibility of a domestic-violence suspension on the horizon for Elliott. While the suspension is likely to be brief the Cowboys probably don’t want to depart with any running back depth until the matter has been settled.

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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Ranking the 2017 Redskins roster, the final update: 1-10

Ranking the 2017 Redskins roster, the final update: 1-10

At CSNmidatlantic.com we projected the Redskins’ 53-man roster (offense, defense) right after minicamp. Now we are taking it one step further and ranking the 53 players we think will make the team.

The rankings are determined by who we think will have the most impact on the 2017 Redskins. No consideration was given for past performance or for what a particular player might do down the road. We’ll be revealing the rankings over the next few weeks.

Today we’re updating the list with the players we ranked from 1-10. Here are some of the players in our latest update:

—A 2016 free agent who needs to make more big plays.

—A rookie expected to bolster one of the weakest units on the team.   

—Each of the five highest-paid players on the team.

—What you won’t find: Any players who will be over the age of 29 in Week 1.     

Go here to see our ranking of the 2017 Redskins, players 1-53.

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.