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Young Running Backs Vying For Second Role

As the Redskins head into training camp trying to figure out the right depth at each position, they feel good about their young stable of available running backs.

Yes, Alfred Morris is still projected to be the Redskins' workhorse running back, just like he has been for the last three seasons.

Check out these photos of University of Florida running back Matt Jones, the Redskins' 95th-overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.

But that fact hasn't stopped the team's other running backs from working their hardest to get their own reps come gameday.

Each player has their own strengths and each has their own niche they believe can help the team excel.

Matt Jones is big bruiser. Chris Thompson and Trey Williams can juke you. Silas Redd Jr. and Michael Hill are well balanced.

"I just want to add more value to the game," Jones said. "We have Alfred, who's a great back, so I just want to add to his abilities."

The 6-foot-2, 231 pounder has the ability to run over opponents but has had to harness that against his teammates in practice.

"Even when he does run vertically, he has the strength and power to run through tackles, which is interesting. He's been very impressive to us," said head coach Jay Gruden of Jones. "His running style is unique. It's a physical style, but he does have good change of direction – he's shown that out in space – and good hands."

When the time does come for contact and live action, be on the lookout for Jones' to run with the power he's displayed in bursts already.

"I can't wait to play against somebody else," he said. "We're definitely going to get to training camp and get that done and get ready to play other teams."

For Thompson, it's been important this offseason to show the coaches that he can remain healthy after two injury-filled seasons.

"I hate missing practices, and I'm glad that I'm at a point where I haven't missed a day yet," Thompson said. "I just want to continue to keep myself healthy and just continue to keep working. Down the line once decision time comes, once the season comes, I'll be here and healthy and able to make some big plays."

The Florida State product tinkered with his offseason regimen, and so far he's seeing the rewards of his decision.

"I kind of took on hot yoga while I was back home, and that made my body feel totally different," he said. "I felt a lot more flexible. Even stress-wise, it helped relieve a lot of stress. So when I got back here and my mind was free and my body was feeling great, I was ready to go."

While he doesn't have the size of Jones and he may not be as opposing as some of his teammates, Thompson said he's been trying to show the coaches "I'm not scared to block" bigger and stronger defensive players.

"I'm working on my complete game," he said. "I just want the coaches to know once this minicamp is over with that they can say that they do see a difference in me. Then when we get these five weeks off, I'm just going to continue to work, continue to get better, and when camp comes and the pads come on, they'll be able to see the work that I've put in these previous six months or so."

Thompson's also been working on slowing down his pace sometimes, believe it or not.

"I feel like I'm quicker, but I'm still too fast if that makes sense," he said. "Basically, sometimes some of the runs, I'm over-running it. When I'm running my routes, sometimes I'm running them too fast. So I've just been working on trying to be more patient and being quick at the same time."

For Redd Jr., a USC product who went undrafted last season but claimed a season-long roster spot, he's just wants to show he can carry a bigger load this year.

"My role is increasing with Roy [Helu Jr.] gone, and I just want to be that definite third-down back and help Alfred any way I can in the running game," Redd Jr. said earlier in the offseason. "Just help the offense in any way I can. I plan to bring a lot to the table this year, and then continue my role on special teams, try to keep making plays out there as well."

Redd Jr. recorded 16 carries for 75 yards and a touchdown in his rookie season.

Hill, meahwile, is now on his fifth team in three years, but the 5-foot-10, 210 pounder is hoping that he can climb up the depth chart and seize a spot somewhere on the roster.

"At first it was real stressful (moving around), but I learned to make fun of it and being around all these players, coaches, new philosophies and just new perspectives on football, I can appreciate it," he said. "And it actually helped me learn more, so I take that as an advantage over other guys and I know a whole bunch and it helps me out."

The veteran leader
It's hard to believe, but Morris is not only the most experienced running back on the Redskins' roster in terms of game action, he's also the oldest as well.

Not long ago he was the rookie looking up to guys like Tim Hightower and Roy Helu Jr.

Now he's the one the current rookies are seeking out for advice, a role he's happy to fill.

"That's one of the things that I was fortunate to have – guys who were willing to answer questions and to be helpful," Morris said. "Some guys could not help because they think 'You're trying to take my job,' but it's never been like that. So I always make sure I do the same for younger guys. So since he [Jones] came here I was just like, 'Do you have any

questions?' Just like I tell all the guys since I've been here, just come ask me. If I can't get you the answer, I'll find somebody who has the answer."




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