Jamaal Charles used to be among the best running backs in the NFL, and maybe the Redskins hope to turn back the clock.
Washington is dealing with a number of injuries at the running back spot, and to get through two more preseason games, the team is bringing in a number of veteran runners for tryouts. Charles is the biggest name coming in for a test drive with the Redskins, as ESPN reported. Former Giants RB Orleans Darkwa is also getting a tryout, per multiple reports.
How did Washington get to the point where the team needs to add more backfield options in mid-August?
First, Derrius Guice injured his knee in the preseason opener. He will miss the season.
In the second preseason game, Samaje Perine, Byron Marshall and rookie Martez Carter got hurt. Perine should be back in a week or as he suffered only a sprained ankle. Marshall could miss a month, making a roster spot flimsy, and Carter was waived due to his injury.
That means the Burgundy and Gold only have Rob Kelley, Kapri Bibbs and Chris Thompson active for practice, and remember, Thompson is working back from a broken leg he suffered last November. He hasn't played yet in the preseason, and might not go at all until Week 1 in Arizona.
Add all of that together and the team was forced to bring in veteran options, if for nothing else than to get through the remaining two preseason games.
Back to Charles.
From 2009 to 2014, Charles put up absurd numbers. He approached 2,000 total yards from scrimmage in both 2013 and 2010, and put up more than 1,700 total yards in 2012. It's worth adding that Charles found great success with Alex Smith when both were playing in Kansas City. Just saying. He was undeniably great, and probably won thousands of people thousands of dollars as a fantasy football MVP.
That time appears to be over though.
In the last three seasons, injuries have robbed Charles of his burst and elusiveness. Last year, he couldn't break through in the Denver backfield despite being healthy for 14 games. He rushed for just under 300 yards.
Redskins fans will have unfortunate memories of Darkwa.
In an ugly Week 17 loss last season in New York, he busted a 75-yard touchdown run on the first play from scrimmage and finished the game with 154 yards. Last season was the best of his career for Darkwa, he ran for more than 750 yards and averaged 4.4 yards-per-carry. He's only 26 years old and, coincidentally, played college football at Tulane with Rob Kelley.
By adding Guice in the second round of the NFL Draft this spring, the Redskins thought they addressed their need for a talent boost at the RB position. With Guice out for the year, the position looks about the same as it did in 2017.
Adding Charles and Darkwa seem unlikely to change that, at least significantly. And that's if either of the veteran runners even make the 53-man roster.
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