Catching up with Chris Nield
Mike Shanahan selected 21 players in the 2011 and 2012 drafts, and the 17 who remain on the roster are set to enter a critical stage in their development. In the coming weeks, Redskins Insiders Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler will take a look at what those players have accomplished thus far and what they still must do in order to solidify their status in the NFL.
Who: Evan Royster
Position: Running back
Draft year/round/pick: 2011/6th/177th
Career to date:
Royster came out as Penn State’s all-time leading rusher but that didn’t get him much in the NFL. He was a sixth-round pick and he was cut at the end of his rookie training camp. After some time on the practice squad he was called up and started two games at the end of the season. He responded well, rushing for 132 against the Vikings and 113 against the Eagles. It looked like he and Roy Helu would fight it out for the starting job in 2012.
But it didn’t work out that way. The Redskins drafted Alfred Morris in the sixth round and he emerged not just as the starter in 2012 but as a legitimate star. Morris and quarterback Robert Griffin III combined for 455 rushing attempts leaving just scraps for the rest of the backs including Royster. He got just 23 carries on the season.
The return of Helu from injury in 2013 further cut into Royster’s playing time. He was inactive the first three games and on injured reserve with an ankle injury the last three. In between he played just nine snaps on offense.
Outlook for 2014:
You don’t have to be a high-paid football analyst to figure out that Royster’s career track is headed in the wrong direction. The good news for him is that with a new coaching staff can come new opportunity. The bad news is that there is a ton of competition already on the roster and more could arrive.
Morris and Helu are back and they are likely to remain the 1-2 punch. In addition the Redskins have speedy Chris Thompson, who was on injured reserve most of last year, and Jawan Jamison, last year’s seventh-round pick who spent most of 2013 on the practice squad. Plus there is no telling if the team will draft another running back or perhaps bring one in during free agency.
Royster’s role on special teams grew as the year went on and he will need to continue to improve there if he is going to hang on with the team.