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Redskins position preview: Running back


Redskins position preview: Running back

Over the next few weeks, Insiders Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler will take a position-by-position look at the Redskins’ depth chart now that the team’s offseason program has concluded. 

Some battles are straightforward. Others could get complicated. This much, however, cannot be debated: A player is not on the 53-man roster until its finalized Sept. 5.

So who’s in? And who’s in jeopardy? Up today …

Position: Running back

On the roster: Alfred Morris, Darrel Young, Matt Jones, Silas Redd, Chris Thompson, Trey Williams, Michael Hill, Jordan Campbell

Likely to make the 53: Morris, Young, Jones

Comment: Only Marshawn Lynch has more rushing yards than Morris since he came into the league as a sixth-round draft pick in 2012. At a position where players tend to get banged up, he hasn’t missed a start, or even more than a series or two here and there.

Now three years into his career and going into a contract year, the “yeah, buts” are starting to come out. Yeah, but both his total yards gained and his average per carry have declined each year since his breakout rookie season. Yeah, but he’s not very effective catching the ball out of the backfield. Yeah, but he doesn’t have breakaway speed.

Jay Gruden has emphasized the positive with Morris, refusing to concede that the back will have any less of a role than he had last year. Yeah, but you don’t draft a running back in the third round if you intend to maintain the status quo.

That third-round back is Jones and he is an intriguing blend of size, smooth moves, and pass-catching ability. He looked good in OTAs and minicamp but it would be wise to hold off on even a preliminary evaluation of this physical back until the pads are on for a while.

The word is that Young is worried that the fullback position will be fully phased out of Gruden’s offense and he’ll be out of a job. But that line of thought is likely a self-motivation tactic. Gruden likes Young’s versatility and his ability to catch, block, and run. You can write him down on the 53-man roster with a Sharpie.

Battling for a job: Redd, Thompson, Williams, Hill, Campbell

Comment: The Redskins are likely to keep three running backs (in addition to the fullback Young) and Morris and Jones are locks. That leaves Thompson, a 2013 fifth-round draft pick, and Redd, who made the team as an undrafted rookie last year, fighting for that last spot.

The coaches are intrigued by Thompson, who has the speed to be a threat to take it to the house any time he touches the ball. They also are frustrated by his constant battles with injuries. If he can stay healthy he could have the inside track on that third running back job.

But even if Thompson is healthy it would be a mistake to write off Redd’s chances. He impressed coaches and teammates with his work ethic on the field and the way he approached preparation off the field as well. Redd made the 53-man roster but he played sparingly, getting just 16 carries for 75 yards.

If both backs are impressive in camp and in the preseason, a decision to keep four running backs is not out of the question. They would have to go short at another position, of course, but a great August by both players could mean they are both in uniform in September.

The 5-7, 195-pound Williams is an intriguing prospect. Many were surprised when he went undrafted out of Texas A&M. He caught some eyes during offseason workouts with his speed and moves; we will have to see how those translate in pads with contact before we can realistically assess his chances. The numbers seem to work against him making the 53 but the practice squad is a possibility.

Hill has spent some time on three different NFL rosters. His chances of making the 53 are slim and a player who will be 26 before the season starts is unlikely to be a candidate for the practice squad. Campbell is a long shot as well, barring injuries.   

Redskins position previews 2015:

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Redskins365 Episode 1: The Future Starts Now

Redskins365 Episode 1: The Future Starts Now

Over the 2019 offseason, the Washington Redskins periodically released episodes to a new series called "Redskins 365". Here, viewers can get an all-access look into all the important moments leading up to the 2019-20 season. In episode 1 titled "The Future Starts Now" the Redskins begin their journey toward improvement following the conclusion of the 2018-19 campaign.

The episode begins immediately following the disappointing end to Washington's season as players participated in locker cleanout day. A somewhat somber atmosphere, the likes of Shaun Dion Hamilton, Adrian Peterson, Ryan Kerrigan and Trent Williams reflect on the season and look ahead to 2019.

Following that, it's on to the additions and changes on the coaching staff. Head coach Jay Gruden gives his thoughts on new defensive staff hirings Ray Horton and Rob Ryan as well as Kevin O'Connell's jump to offensive coordinator. Ryan and O'Connell also explain their excitement for next season in their respective roles.

With the coaching staff puzzle becoming clear, the episode transitions to the NFL Combine. Gruden along with Senior Vice President of Player Personnel Doug Williams, President Bruce Allen and Director of College Scouting Kyle Smith take you through the Combine process. Discussions about the interview process and what the Redskins are looking for in players give insight into how evaluations are done. 

The Combine portion has a heavy focus on players Kyler Murray, D.K. Metcalf and Montez Sweat among others. Released on March 20, one can see and hear from Sweat before the idea of him becoming a Redskin came to fruition and listen to Metcalf's thoughts on Jay Gruden.

Head Strength and Conditioning Coach Chad Englehart also makes an appearance, discussing his viral moment with Ed Oliver at the combine and the fraternity-type bond conditioning coaches in the NFL share.

Washington's journey toward success in 2019 began the moment the clock ran out on the 2018 season. Episode 1 of "Redskins365" picks up right in that preliminary stage.


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Trent Williams will not report to Richmond to open training camp, per report

Trent Williams will not report to Richmond to open training camp, per report

Trent Williams will not report to training camp this week when the Redskins head to Richmond to officially begin their 2019 season, according to NFL Network.

The news comes as no surprise, as Williams missed all of the Redskins voluntary offseason workouts and skipped the team's mandatory minicamp in June. Reports streamed out that Williams was upset about his contract and looking for a new deal -- not to mention reports that he was angry with the team's medical staff after a missed diagnosis with a growth on his scalp. 

Williams has made no official statements, and the Redskins organization offered very little in terms of a timeline for his return. Washington team president Bruce Allen said he knows "the truth" about Williams' situation, and head coach Jay Gruden said he hoped things would be resolved before Week 1 in Philadelphia. 

A seven-time Pro Bowler, Williams is arguably the best left tackle in the NFL. He's an immensely talented offensive lineman with two years remaining on his deal. Beyond the medical situation, Williams could be upset that in 2020, the final year of his deal, there is hardly any guaranteed cash. The team could release Williams with less than $2 million in salary cap penalty and save nearly $13 million against the cap. 

Without Williams, the Redskins could be in real trouble. Second-year pro Geron Christian did not seem capable of playing at a starting tackle level last fall, and that was before a knee injury landed him on IR. Morgan Moses should be locked in as the right tackle, but opposite him in Williams' spot will be dicey. 

Multiple sources with the Redskins and around the NFL suggested more cash could change Williams' mind before Week 1, and for now, it looks like the 31-year-old will be waiting for that increased payday. If Williams missed actual games, he would begin to lose money from this year's $14 million salary.