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News & Notes: Torain Makes a Push For a Roster Spot

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Ryan Torain looks at the Redskins' depth chart and sees the likes of Clinton Portis, Larry Johnson and Willie Parker ahead of him.

These are three of the more successful running backs in recent NFL history.

Intimidated? No.

"Everywhere you go, there's competition," he said.

In training camp, Torain has held his own competing against Portis, Johnson and Parker, who collectively have 24 years of experience and 21,293 career rushing yards.

In the Redskins' 42-17 preseason win over the Buffalo Bills last Friday, Torain led the offense with 62 rushing yards on 17 carries. He alternated snaps with rookie Keiland Williams in the final three quarters.

It was his first NFL action since 2008 when he was with the Denver Broncos. He has been sidelined with a series on injuries, including a knee ligament injury, since that season.

Torain said he is enjoying playing football again.

"It has been a long time since I've played," he said. "I'm excited to be back out here."

Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan drafted Torain in the fifth round of the 2008 NFL Draft when he was head coach of the Denver Broncos.

"We drafted Ryan just because he has great running skills," Shanahan said. "He hasn't been able to stay healthy. When he has been able to stay healthy, you can see his ability."

The Redskins don't have a third-down back on the roster – it's one of the reasons the team was interested in signing free agent Brian Westbrook – and Torain could have an opportunity to step into that role.

Torain caught two passes for 22 yards in the Bills game.

"That's part of the [evaluation] process," Shanahan said. "We know he can run the ball. Can he pass protect? Can he catch the ball in game situations? Can he stay healthy? Those are the things you're looking for to see if a guy can kind of take the next step."

Torain played college football at Arizona State, where he totaled 1,782 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns. He was also a solid pass-catching back for the Sun Devils, with 25 receptions for 305 yards and five touchdowns.

"I'm confident in my abilities," Torain said. "I'm playing the game I love and I still have a passion for it."


-- MISTAKES MOUNT AT PRACTICE

The Redskins held a closed practice on Tuesday morning and coaches implemented new snap counts on offense.

The change resulted in a disjointed practice performance.

At one point, Mike Shanahan halted practice and gathered players around him to give a pep talk.

"What you do if you are making a few mistakes is you stop practice and you talk," Shanahan said. "You emphasize the points you are trying to get across.

"This is usually the week where everyone is a little bit sore and everyone is looking forward to camp getting over with. At the same time you are getting a game plan ready--not a total game plan, just a part of it.

"It's a different kind of week than they are accustomed to."

Practice was more crisp after Shanahan's talk.

Training camp ends on Thursday.


-- WHO'S ON PUNT RETURNS?

Rookies Brandon Banks and Terrence Austin are going to alternate punt returns in the Redskins' preseason game vs. Baltimore on Saturday night.

Phillip Buchanon, listed as the No. 1 punt returner on the depth chart, is expected to get some work on punt returns later in preseason.

"Part of it is evaluating the guys you have not seen on film," Mike Shanahan said. "I've watched Phillip. Phillip returned punts back in Miami and throughout his time in the league. I think I get a good feel that he is hungry to do it, same with DeAngelo [Hall] and a few other guys."

Banks had a 77-yard punt return for a touchdown in the Redskins' 42-17 preseason win over Buffalo.

Austin had three returns for an 8.0-yard average.


-- HAYNESWORTH OUT

Albert Haynesworth sat out the latter part of Tuesday's training camp practice after he started feeling ill.

He participated in a handful of 11-on-11 snaps before heading to the sidelines.

Mike Shanahan said he did not think it was heat-related.

"I just think he wasn't feeling well," Shanahan said. "I'm not sure exactly what it was, but doctors didn't feel like it was heat related. We'll have to see."


-- SMITH PAYS A VISIT

Former Redskins defensive end Bruce Smith visited training camp on Tuesday.

Smith was at Redskins Park to help promote the upcoming Virginia Tech-Boise State game on Sept. 6 at FedExField. Smith is a Virginia Tech alum.

Smith, inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2009, chatted with Chris Samuels and Donovan McNabb, among other Redskins. He helped mentor Samuels, now a Redskins coaching intern, from 2000-03.

Asked about Mike Shanahan coaching the Redskins, Smith said: "This team is going to be well-coached, disciplined and accountable. That's what he's going to bring to this organization for a long time."


-- WESTBROOK GOES WEST

Brian Westbrook has opted to sign with the San Francisco 49ers.

He had visited with the Redskins last spring and was reportedly offered a contract.

"[His decision] didn't really surprise me," Mike Shanahan said. "You just never know nowadays relative to the agents and the money involved. Brian is a good football player and I think he will help San Francisco."

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