As the offense continues to take shape before the 2015 season, Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden says the team is still in search of a third-down back to complement Alfred Morris.
While Alfred Morris continues to be fully entrenched as the Redskins' primary running back, the team is still in search for a consistent contributor as its primary third-down back.
Veteran Roy Helu Jr. filled that role for the last two full seasons, recording more receiving yards than rushing yards in the process, but is now a member of the Oakland Raiders.
Behind Morris on the roster currently are Chris Thompson and Silas Redd Jr. – two young players that could potentially take on that role in 2015.
The team also recently signed running back Michael Hill to add competition to the position this offseason.
"Chris came in last year at the end and did some things, and we're hoping that he can come back and stay healthy in the offseason and give us a little jolt back there," Gruden said at the NFC Coaches' Breakfast last month in Phoenix. "And Silas Redd will get every chance to do some things also."
Thompson spent the majority of last season on the practice squad before scoring on his first-ever regular-season touch on Week 15 vs. the New York Giants.
On a third-down play, Thompson slipped past a rushing safety to find himself wide-open for a nine-yard touchdown reception.
While it was a pleasing moment for Thompson – who has battled a string of injuries over the years – the Florida State product believes he still has a lot of work to do to be an everyday contributor.
"I wasn't built to be a big 200-pound guy, so just working on getting stronger, basically work on my weaknesses and my strengths, continue to get better at them," Thompson said of his offseason work in December. "I want to try to get faster. I want to get quicker. I want to be better in my route running. I want to catch the ball better. I want to get better at my pass blocking, which that's just me working on my leverage."
Redd Jr., meanwhile, was a pleasant surprise for the Redskins last year after being signed as a college free agent.
Through his training camp flashes and preseason play, Redd Jr. was able to surpass several veterans and other rookies on the depth chart.
While he didn't get many carries during the season, he made the most of extended action during a Week 2 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, recording his first NFL touchdown to go along with 41 yards on eight carries.
Even with Morris, Thompson, Redd Jr. and Hill available, Gruden did, however, hint at the possibility that the Redskins could draft additional depth at the position or look at some of the veterans still out there on the free agency market as the team is shaped for its 90-man training camp roster.
"It's [a] very deep running back draft in my opinion, and we're excited to add another piece at some point, hopefully," he said. "We have seven picks. Hopefully one of them will be a running back, or a free agent to compete. There are some good free agents that haven't been signed yet."
Still, with whomever the Redskins may bring in to learn under running backs coach Randy Jordan, Gruden said the Redskins have every intention to give the returning players at the position a chance.
"Giving Chris an opportunity, Silas, Alfred, that's where it starts," he said. "And we'll add some more later on for competition."