Are the Redskins about to begin a new era at running back?
For the last seven years, Clinton Portis has been the Redskins' franchise back, but injuries have derailed him in recent seasons.
In 2010, the door opened for Ryan Torain to emerge as a midseason starter.
Torain missed four games himself due to a .lingering hamstring injury, but he still finished as the Redskins' leader in rushing with 742 yards, a 4.5 yards-per-carry average and four touchdowns. He also posted 18 catches for 125 yards and two touchdowns.
"You have to take advantage of opportunities," Torain said after the season. "When my number was called I went out there and performed. I just wanted to help the team win."
Head coach Mike Shanahan, who as Denver Broncos head coach drafted Torain in the fifth round of the 2008 NFL Draft, said Torain has another opportunity next season.
He could stake a claim to the Redskins' starting job at running back.
"I think Ryan helped himself over the last few weeks of the season, taking some shots and staying healthy," Shanahan said. "He'll be right in there. He'll be competing.
"Is he going to come in as our number one back? No. I can't say that. Will he have a chance to compete to be the number one back? Probably."
Said Torain, always a man of few words: "I have a lot to build on for next year and I'm excited."
Shanahan's shift to a younger backfield also included undrafted rookie Keiland Williams, who was second on the offense with 261 rushing yards and three touchdowns.
Torain began the 2010 season on the Redskins' practice squad but he was elevated to the active roster by Week 4.
His hard-nosed running impressed when he posted 100-yard efforts against the Indianapolis Colts and Chicago Bears in Weeks 6-7.
Upon returning from the hamstring injury, Torain had a career day in Week 14 against Tampa Bay, compiling 121 yards in the first quarter and finishing with 172 for the game.
He did some of his best running in the first quarter. In the season finale against the New York Giants, he posted 46 rushing yards in the first quarter.
Heading into next season, Torain, 6-1 and 218 pounds, must prove he can stay healthy.
Along with the hamstring injury last October and November, Torain has been sidelined in previous years due to an elbow injury and a knee ligament tear.
Along with Torain and Williams, the Redskins have acquired several more young running backs – James Davis and Andre Brown – to evaluate this offseason.
As for Portis, Shanahan said his status as a full-time running back is a question mark. Portis is coming off of abdominal surgery.
"Don't think you know for sure once a guy comes off a surgery," Shanahan said. "I think time will tell."