Redskins position outlook: Running back

Redskins position outlook: Running back
February 6, 2014, 10:30 am
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Over the next few weeks, Redskins reporters Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler will grade each position group’s performance in 2013 and evaluate the outlook for 2014.

Previously we looked at the inside linebackersoutside linebackers, the defensive linecornerbackswide receivers, the interior offensive line and offensive tackles. Next up, running backs. This afternoon, we’ll take a look at a key question facing the position and examine possible solutions, so be sure to return.

Running backs

Grade: B

2013 starters: RB Alfred Morris (16 games), FB Darrel Young (7—other games started by extra TE or WR)

Reserves: Roy Helu Jr., Evan Royster, Chris Thompson, Jawan Jamison

Free agents: None

Rewind: Many fans will tell you that Alfred Morris had an off year. If gaining 1,275 yards rushing yards, fourth in the NFL, is a bad season then the Redskins will take a lot of those from Morris.

It wasn’t all great for Morris. His average per carry ticked down from 4.8 in 2012 to 4.6 last year. In 2012, he was stuffed after a run of one yard or less on about 26 percent of his runs. Last year that happened on about 32 percent of his carries. It should be noted that the offensive line and game situations (the Redskins were trailing a lot more often) contribute here.

Helu came back from 2012 season that was mostly lost to injuries to become a solid contributor. He played almost 45 percent of the snaps as the third down/passing situation back. Again, with the Redskins trailing so often during their 3-13 season there were a lot of passing situations.

Helu’s solid play pushed Royster back from his 2012 role as Morris’ primary backup. He played just nine offensive snaps and carried twice. Thompson was tried at kick returner early in the year but he ended up on injured reserve before he took an offensive snap. Jamison was on the practice squad for the first 13 games before being on the 53 and active for the last three games but he did not play.

Fast forward: It seems that Morris and Helu are locks for the roster this fall but the others will have to fight for jobs.

If the Redskins are going to improve on special teams backup running backs will need to play a big role and that could go a long way towards sorting out who stays and who goes. Thompson was drafted for his speed and if he can turn that into return ability his job security will increase. Royster played some special teams snaps but he wasn’t really considered to be a core member despite that being just about all he did. It’s telling that Jamison was a game-day active for the last three weeks and wasn’t used on a single special teams unit.

What will the roles of Morris and Helu be in 2014? Tarik El-Bashir and I will take a look that as our big question this afternoon.