Over the course of his career as an NFL head coach, Mike Shanahan has shown that he's willing to reject conventional wisdom in running game.
Rather than rely on a true No. 1 back, Shanahan has frequently relied on running back-by-committee, and has shown a dedication to playing the 'hot hand.'
As a result, the Redskins set franchise firsts last season, behind a dozen ball carriers, six running backs and four starters (Tim Hightower, Roy Helu Jr., Evan Royster, and Ryan Torain).
Going into 2012, Shanahan added rookie Alfred Morris to the mix and declared an open competition for the starting spot.
"Sometimes you get a running back that can carry the load by himself," Shanahan said. "Most of the time you kind of have two or three guys, but we'll just have to wait and see as the preseason goes on who wins the playing time."
Hightower is the senior member of the group, and worked in full-team drills for the first time yesterday since his tearing his ACL in Week 5 last season.
"Tim was starting out with the first team before he got hurt. Last year he was a first teamer," Shanahan said. "But obviously Roy [Helu Jr.] did a good job, [Evan] Royster did a good job."
In Weeks 12-14, Helu Jr. became the first rookie running back in Redskins history to post three consecutive 100-yard games.
Royster followed in Weeks 16-17, rushing for 100 yards in each game, making Helu Jr. and Royster the first rookie running back tandem in team history to each post consecutive 100-yard rushing games in a season.
"We've got a lot of guys that I believe have the ability to play and play well," Shanahan concluded. "We'll just let it play out."