Given opportunity, Keiland Williams excels

Given opportunity, Keiland Williams excels
August 25, 2013, 2:45 pm
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Who will make the Redskins roster?

Washington Redskins running back Keiland Williams (25) runs that ball as Buffalo Bills defensive back Nickell Robey (37) defends during the second half against at FedEX Field.

(Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports)

Alfred Morris tops the Redskins depth chart at running back. He earned that by running for more than 1,600 yards last season as a rookie.

Morris and Robert Griffin III formed a dominant rushing force last season, Griffin with speed and elusiveness and Morris with power and burst. The Skins ground game played a major role in the 2012 NFC East title.

To do the same in 2013, much will be expected of Morris, but through three preseason games it looks like the Skins have good options behind the second-year rusher.

Forcing himself into the conversation is fourth year pro Keiland Williams.

In a 30-7 win over the Buffalo Bills, Morris looked precise in brief playing time, displaying his knack for sharp cuts in the Redskins zone blocking scheme. He finished with four carries for 16 yards, a crisp 4 yards-per-carry average. 

Roy Helu seems likely to secure the backup running back spot, and he looked sharp against the Bills, rushing for 70 yards on 15 carries. Helu may also see some time on third downs as a more able pass catcher than Morris.

Further down the depth chart, Redskins coach Mike Shanahan needs to know what players like Williams can do. And against the Bills, the coach learned.

“I was impressed with our offensive line and our backs,” Shanahan said after the game.

Undrafted four years ago out of LSU, Keiland Williams rushed for more than 50 yards on just eight carries against Buffalo.

Most of Williams’ touches came later in the game against the second and third string defensive players of Buffalo, yet Williams still showed strong running and decisive cuts.

“It feels good,” Williams said after the game of his performance. “Any time you can go out there and put good things on tape and be successful it feels good.”

Williams has been in the NFL long enough to know that no roster spot is secure. He joined Washington as an undrafted free agent in 2010. From there, he spent parts of two seasons in Detroit, and now he’s fighting to rejoin the team that gave him his start.

“Anytime you have an offense and you put them on the field and you feel they can move the ball against any defense in the league from the starters to the third team, that’s definitely exciting,” Williams said.

No roster certainty exists for Williams, but he ran hard in his opportunities.

Perhaps more importantly, he did not put the ball on the ground, which both Helu and rookie running back Chris Thompson did. 

“We have a stable of backs, one of the best offensive lines in the league right now,” Williams said. “Not to discredit myself or any of the other backs, but you put any back [in] there and let the o-line do what they do, we’ll be successful.”

Morris views the depth of the Redskins running corps as a strength. 

“We got a great group of guys here, we’re all pushing each other, we’re all making each other better,” Morris said. “Just knowing you have a stable of backs to come in, you won’t miss a beat. They’ve been running great all preseason.”

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