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Redskins 2017 depth chart preview: Running backs

Redskins 2017 depth chart preview: Running backs

Over the next few weeks, Rich Tandler will take a position-by-position look at the Redskins’ 2017 depth chart as the team enjoys some R&R ahead of training camp. Some positions are easy to handicap. Others have moving parts and, thus, are more complex. So, who’s in? And who’s in trouble?

Up today…

Position: Running back

On the roster: Rob Kelley, Samaje Perine, Chris Thompson, Mack Brown, Keith Marshall, Matt Jones

The numbers: Have six, likely to keep 3-4 on final roster.

Locks: Kelley, Perine, Thompson

A year ago, Kelley was in the long shot category here, the “9th-string” running back (in the words of Jay Gruden) and it looked like a practice squad spot would be a great achievement for him. You all know how the year turned out for the undrafted free agent.  He is likely to be the starter but it remains to be seen how many carries he gets. Take the over on his 2016 total of 168 but predicting 200 might be high, depending on how things develop.

RELATED: The numbers say that Cousin is an "upper tier passer"

Part of those developments that will affect Kelley is how well Perine progresses. The fourth-round rookie was not drafted to sit and learn; they want him to get his hands on the ball. I suspect that his workload will be light early in the season but as they get into November and December Perine could lead the team in rushing some games.

Thompson could be another player who takes carries away from Kelley. The third-down back averaged 5.6 yards on 103 carries over the last two years and Gruden may be tempted to try to get some of that production on first and second downs.

On the bubble: Brown, Marshall

Brown showed some flash in the preseason and he had a 61-yard TD run late in a rout of the Bears. But making to roster or not may not be in his control. It may come down to a numbers game. If they carry four tight ends, running back might be a good spot to shave back a spot to make room. If they carry three TE’s, Brown could stick as the fourth RB.

MORE REDSKINS: True or False: The Redskins will carry four tight ends this year

Marshall battled injuries throughout his career at Georgia and he spent last year on injured reserve. He has some speed and in OTAs he turned heads with some nice bursts off tackle. Still, he’s looking up at four players on the depth chart and four is the maximum the team will carry on the 53. If everyone stays healthy he moves into the long shot category and the 2016 seventh-round pick could be ticketed for a year on the practice squad.

Long shots: Jones

It’s rare that a player suffers a fall like Jones did. He was the unquestioned starter going into last season and in his seven starts he was on pace to gain over 1,000 yards rushing. But fumbles and other issues got him into Gruden’s doghouse and even new agent Drew Rosenhaus is going to be able to do much about it. Absent a serious injury or a suspension players who fall so far and so hard are few and far between.

Redskins 2017 depth chart previews: Offensive tackle | Wide receiver | Interior O-line | Defensive line | Outside linebacker | Tight end

Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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After releasing Martez Carter the Redskins are thin at running back

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Associated Press

After releasing Martez Carter the Redskins are thin at running back

The Redskins are very thin at running back right now. 

Today at practice the Redskins had three running backs on the field. Rob Kelley and Kapri Bibbs are fully healthy while Chris Thompson is limited as he recovers from a broken leg he suffered last November. 

Injuries have hit the depth at running back. The most recent casualty was Martez Carter, who was waived with an injury designation. 

The move was surprising since Carter had some good runs against the Jets during their preseason game on Thursday and he did not appear to be injured during the game. 

Coach Jay Gruden did not offer any more details as to what the injury to Carter was, only that he is no longer with the team. 

Also sidelined with lower leg injuries are Samaje Perine and Byron Marshall. According to media reports, Perine will be out one week and Marshall for two to four. Gruden would not confirm the timelines, saying only that they are undergoing treatment and the timetable for their returns in unknown. 

The Redskins will bring in some running backs to try out on Sunday. They will need at least one and probably two in order to get through the upcoming preseason game against the Broncos on Friday. 

In other personnel moves, the Redskins waived linebacker Jeff Knox and defensive end Jalen Wilkerson and signed offensive tackle Kendall Calhoun, defensive back Darius Hillary, and wide receiver Allenzae Staggers. 

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Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCS and on Instagram @RichTandler

 

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RB roster battle is fun to watch, but injuries will force tough decisions

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USA Today Sports

RB roster battle is fun to watch, but injuries will force tough decisions

Too much attention gets paid to roster construction during training camp. Projecting the 53-man roster has become its own August cottage industry, much like Bracketology flourishes in March.

The truth of the matter is regardless of projections, more than anything else, injuries dictate what players ultimately land on the Week 1 roster. 

Right now, that is apparent with the Redskins' running back position. Derrius Guice headlined the group after Washington grabbed him in the second round of April's NFL Draft. After injuring his knee in the first preseason game, however, Guice won't play in 2018. 

That means the other five guys battling for a spot now move up in the pecking order. Rob Kelley and Chris Thompson will make the team, even though Thompson is yet to play in the preseason and is still battling back from a broken leg last November. 

Samaje Perine, Byron Marshall, and Kapri Bibbs played with the 'Skins last season and were locked in a tense battle for spots. Then, Perine and Marshall got hurt Thursday night. Perine is expected to miss a week, while Marshall could miss up to four weeks. 

Can both Perine and Marshall still make the Redskins 53-man roster? 

Of course. 

Is that a certainty? Definitely not. 

Bibbs gets a major opportunity now, and he has looked good so far in camp and preseason games. Additionally, for Bibbs, it often gets lost that he actually played well in Washington last season. In three games he had more than 200 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown. 

If Marshall truly needs a month to get his lower leg injury settled, that won't be until after the deadline to trim rosters. The Redskins could move him to the injured reserve list before then, but that would mean Marshall would not be eligible to play for the Burgundy and Gold until Week 7. Also, the team only gets two moves off of IR for the season. Would they want to use one on their fourth running back?

Perine's injury situation seems less severe, and barring a setback or further injury, he will be on the roster. 

That means Thompson, Kelley, Perine, and Bibbs. Maybe Marshall too, but that will be determined by his rehab schedule. 

Martez Carter made impressive runs against the Jets, and while it seems easy to dismiss his roster candidacy, remember Rob Kelley was an undrafted free agent out of a small Louisiana school just a few years ago.

Complicating matters is the reality that Washington's front office is absolutely going to be watching what other NFL teams do at roster cut time. Other running backs could emerge, especially from teams like Detroit that already have a crowded running back room and added more players via the draft. 

Coaches like to say competition on the field is what makes roster decisions. And yes, that's a big part of it. The violent nature of the NFL, the ultimate Next Man Up league, plays a huge factor as well. 

Trimming a roster because of injuries doesn't mean there aren't mistakes made. It sure looks like Washington screwed up last year by cutting QB Nate Sudfeld, even though the team felt compelled to keep extra offensive linemen. 

It might be trite, but the NFL is a long, grueling season. The Redskins know that. The team lost more players to injury than any other NFL squad last season. 

So when looking at 53-man roster projections, know there are two more preseason games left, and sad but likely, more injuries to come. 

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