Redskins running back Evan Royster has already turned in a couple 100-yard rushing performances in his one-and-a-half-year career, but the sixth-round selection in the 2011 NFL Draft had never found the end zone – until Sunday.
Royster's two-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter of the Redskins' 21-13 loss to the Panthers was the first time he been in the end zone since Nov. 27, 2010, when he was a senior at Penn State and scored from 10 yards out against conference rival Michigan State.
But Royster said after Sunday's game that he'd trade his first professional touchdown for a win any day of the week.
"I haven't even really had time to think about it," he said. "I'm still locked on the loss."
Royster has been adjusting to a new role as Washington's third-down running back after rookie Alfred Morris was named the starter Week 1 and responded by becoming of the league's leading rushers through the first nine weeks of the season.
On third downs, Royster has added responsibilities in the Redskins' pass-protection schemes and is also looked at as a pass-catching threat out of the backfield.
"It's a different experience for me," Royster said. "I've never been a third-down back in my life and I'm still adjusting to it, but I'm just trying to get in where I fit in."
Being a role player is nothing new to Royster, who was originally signed to the Redskins' practice squad as a rookie before being elevated to the active roster after a season-ending injury to then-starter Tim Hightower in Week 6 of the 2011 season.
"I want to be on this roster," Royster said. "I want to be on this team; I want to help this team win. Any way I can do it, I'm happy to do it."
Royster has also been recovering from an injury to his right knee, something he's been playing through since training camp. He said he hadn't felt the effects of the injury of late until one play in Sunday's game.
"It really hasn't bothered me lately, and then that one play, I just landed on it a little funny," Royster said. "It flares up and it just comes out of nowhere sometimes."
But playing through the pain finally paid off for Royster against the Panthers. With 1:34 remaining in the game and the Redskins trailing 21-6 with the ball at the Carolina two-yard line, Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III – who was lined up in the pistol formation – handed the ball off to Royster, who ran to his left.
After gaining one yard, Royster rumbled his way into the end zone by lowering his shoulder on a couple Panthers defenders.
"[Trent] Williams had a good block on the edge, pushing his guy," Royster said. "I just tried to put my foot in the ground and get in from there."
Despite being disappointed in the loss, Royster said he's happy to have his first professional touchdown in the books: "That touchdown, it's something I'll be able to look back on later and be very proud of."