RICHMOND—Does Jay Gruden intend to keep five running backs on the 53-man roster?
Most NFL teams carry four or five running backs on their rosters, including a fullback if they use one. As with any other position, the number of players a team carries has ripple effects at other positions on the team. One more running back on the roster means one fewer offensive lineman or wide receiver or quarterback.
Gruden may have tipped his hand on how many running backs the Redskins will carry. Here is what he said when asked about the status of Evan Royster, who has been with the team as a reserve running back since they drafted him in 2011.
"He's in competition with the rest of them. Right now, we have obviously Alfred [Morris] as the slam dunk and then we have Roy [Helu] who's had a good camp and then we're looking for the other two to step up.”
The emphasis is added. Gruden has said previously that he is looking forward to what fullback Darrel Young can do in his offense so Young, Morris, Helu are locks. Gruden said that they are looking for two more so it looks like the plan is to carry five total running backs.
That would mean that Royster, rookies Lache Seastrunk and Silas Redd, and second-year back Chris Thompson are competing for two roster spots, not just one as some suspect.
The good news that there may be an extra job for one of those players ratchets up the pressure at the bottom of the depth chart at other positions. More opportunity for the running backs might mean that Josh LeRibeus and Adam Gettis will end up on the waiver wire or that Colt McCoy will not stick as the third quarterback.
It should be noted that there are two and a half weeks and three preseason games to go before the final decision must be made. The plans they have right now are written with a dry-erase marker, not a Sharpie. The last three or four roster spots are fungible and if two of the running backs who are on the bubble don’t prove to be worthy of a roster spot then Gruden and company could opt to shuffle the deck and keep a player at another position.