Earlier this offseason, Redskins.com staff reviewed the 2011 play of the running backs and fullbacks. With training camp set to begin next week, it's time to preview the current state of the Redskins' running backs.
Thanks to injury and ineffectiveness, the Redskins relied heavily on the running-back-by-committee approach last season, starting four running backs at various points.
With three healthy backs returning this season, the offense stands to gain from the group's depth of experience.
Head coach Mike Shanahan declared during the offseason that there would be an open competition during training camp. Regardless of who wins, the Redskins' rushing attack should be vastly improved in 2012. .
Running back Ryan Torain (waived 2011)
Fullback Mike Sellers (released).
Running back Tim Hightower (IR)
Running back Alfred Morris (draft).
CURRENT STATE OF THE UNIT:
Going into 2012, there should be no questions of whether or not this group can produce at the NFL level--only if they can stay healthy.
Despite coming off of a major knee injury, Tim Hightower was an obvious pick to re-sign in the offseason, and will be the senior back going into training camp.
After battling leg injuries late last season, Roy Helu Jr. said his conditioning has improved going into 2012. He called his injuries a product of wear and tear, and expects those concerns to be a thing of the past.
Evan Royster spent most of his rookie season on the Redskins' practice squad before injury provided opportunity. Despite only starting two games, Royster rushed for 328 yards and a team-high 5.9 yards per carry.
The unit's lead blocker will be Darrel Young, who is currently the only true fullback on the Redskins' roster. Still adjusting to his position at the NFL level, Young has the ability to develop further as a punishing blocker and integral special teams player.
Seeking value in the late rounds of the draft, the Redskins added Florida Atlantic University's Alfred Morris, a bruiser that can play running back or fullback. Like most Shanahan back, Morris is an unknown commodity that could develop into a starter down the road.
The Redskins added value in free agency this offseason, signing Antwon Bailey and Lennon Creer after the draft. Tristan Davis was also retained from last season's practice squad.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR:
With all three top backs having starting experience in this offense, the open competition will start on equal footing for familiarity and expectations.
Even though these backs are competing for a limited number of repetitions, don't expect the players to be contentious toward each other. The Redskins have a lot of character and leadership at this position.
If each back can stay healthy, expect Shanahan to mix and match the trio, using a dynamic rushing attack. There is always room for young talent.