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Shanahan reaches into past to form new backfield

Mike Shanahan

Washington Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan talks during a predraft news conference at at Redskins Park, Wednesday, April 27, 2011, in Ashburn, Va. (AP Photo/Luis M. Alvarez)


Mike Shanahan was known in Denver for cranking out productive running games out of spare parts, like a coaching MacGyver. The approach didn’t seem to travel with him to Washington last year.

So instead of relying on a broken-down veteran like Clinton Portis, Shanahan is starting anew with a couple of sleeper prospects. He used a fourth-round pick on Roy Helu from Nebraska and a sixth-round pick on Evan Royster from Penn State.

Then Shanahan started to compare them to former Pro Bowlers.

“Coach Shanahan, he said to me when they drafted me that I remind him of Terrell Davis,” Royster said via Mike Jones of the Washington Post.

Helu was one of our favorite sleepers heading into the draft, and could be the best bet in a wide open competition to start with Royster and “veteran” Ryan Torain.

“With Helu we have something we haven’t had: speed, and he has great hands,” Shanahan said. Then Shanny compared Hulu to Portis as a young player. “I look at Helu as having that type of ability, that type of speed.”

We’re not crazy enough to believe The John Beck Experiment could work, but we are crazy enough to believe Shanahan can get his MaGyver mojo back putting together a young, unheralded backfield.