Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Part 2: The Battle For The Starting Running Back Slot

Over the next four days, skins take will have a early outlook on the top three concerned areas headed into the 2010 season. We are over a month away until training camp and three months until the season starts. So a lot can happen overtime. Part II will focus on the running back competition.

The Redskins had a limited presence at the running game last season because of a depleted offensive line and injuries to their starters and backups. Clinton Portis only average around 4 yards per carry and had only one 100 yard rushing game.

Portis suffered a season ending concussion in week 9 against Atlanta. This begin a series of injury problems at tailback. Two weeks later, backup Ladell Betts torn a ACL and MCL on his right knee that ended his season. The Redskins turn to other reserves such as Quinton Ganther and Marcus Mason.

Headed into 2010, Betts, Ganther, and Mason are not on the Redskins roster. Portis is only starting running back from last year and he is reuniting with Coach Mike Shanahan. Portis begin his career with the Denver Broncos when Shanahan was the head coach.

Anyway, Portis will be competing for his starting job with two other veteran backs. During the offseason, Shanahan acquired Larry Johnson from Kansas City and Willie Parker from Pittsburgh.

On paper, the Redskins appeared to have the best running back tandem in the NFL if it was 2005. But it's 2010. Both Johnson and Parker are no different then Portis. They are all at the tail end of their careers. The average age among them are 29. That the age when star running backs tend to decline from their peak years.

Therefore, it is hard to see any production from these backs this season unless Shanahan gets a undrafted running back from training camp, and shows promise early. Shanahan has a long history of getting undrafted backs and turning them into a 1,000 yard rusher. So expect the unexpected from Shanahan. The one thing he is very good at is getting a solid running back.

As for the three running backs, one of them will be cut after the preseason and so far, it appears to be Willie Parker because of his lack of speed in passing down situations. Portis is the early favorite to start again, and some experts believe that Johnson will have a breakout season, but we'll see what happens. Right now, age, lack of depth, and health are the current primary concern coming into camp.

What you think about these acquisitions? Will Clinton Portis and Larry Johnson stay healthy and have a breakout year? Or will some other undrafted running back surprise everyone?

Tomorrow, Part III focuses on the Defense and it plans on switching to the 3-4 scheme

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