By Rich Tandler and Tarik El-Bashir
When Redskins training camp opened more than three weeks ago, there were a handful of question marks at various positions. We still don’t have any firm answers, but after 17 days of practices and a preseason game, we have some clues.
This weekend, CSN Washington Insiders Tarik EL-Bashir and Rich Tandler will examine four of the more intriguing position battles and predict the outcome.
Position: Running back
Outlook: There is no question that Alfred Morris will be the starter and will get the lion’s share of the carries. But when camp started, there were two questions at tailback: How many reserves will they keep? And who will they be? We now have some clarity but there is still plenty to be determined between now and when the final cuts are made on August 31.
Tandler: Roy Helu Jr. was something of a question mark going into camp. It seemed like he’s been injured forever (actually, it was since December of 2011) and that he might never round into the form that helped him lead the team in rushing as a rookie. But he has been healthy in camp and his performance against the Titans last week cemented his status as Morris’ primary backup. Behind those two, Evan Royster, Chris Thompson, and Jawan Jamison are battling for one or maybe two roster spots. Royster got first crack in Tennessee and he responded by gaining 62 yards on 14 carries. It looks like Thompson and Jamison will get their chances on Monday against the Steelers.
El-Bashir: If the Redskins keep only three tailbacks as they did last season, Morris and Helu are currently holding down two of those jobs based on what’s transpired so far. That leaves Royster, Thompson, Jamison and Keiland Williams battling for the final spot. As Rich pointed out, Royster bolstered his case against the Titans, averaging 4.4 yards per carry. Thompson’s chance should arrive Monday. He said Friday that this is the best he’s felt since the knee surgery and that he expects to play – and possibly return kickoffs – against the Steelers. He’ll need to show his trademark speed, shiftiness and, if he gets the chance, that he can also be an asset in the return game. But more important, Thompson must also prove his knee is sound. Jamison, meantime, simply needs to join the conversation after playing just one snap – on special teams – in Tennessee.