Ryan O’Halloran breaks down a position each day heading into the start of Washington Redskins training camp Sunday. Tuesday — Running backs.
4 — Rushes by the Redskins last year — in 498 attempts — that gained 20 or more yards.
What happened last year
The Redskins ranked 12th in rushing yards a game (116.9) but 22nd in yards a carry (3.8). Clinton Portis led the NFL with 325 carries, was fourth with 11 touchdowns and was sixth with 1,262 yards. Ladell Betts’ work sunk to 93 carries, and Mike Sellers was used primarily as a blocker (26 carries). Rock Cartwright had two carries.
Portis, Betts, Sellers and Cartwright are all back in the fold. Cartwright re-signed with the team early in free agency, and his first priority is as a kickoff returner. Rounding out the camp roster are second-year player Marcus Mason, who spent last year on the practice squad, and fullback Nehemiah Broughton, who spent last season on injured reserve.
Fullbacks Pete Schmitt (6-1, 252) and Eric Shelton (6-1, 246) bring size to the backfield. These two players could have a shot to make the roster if Jim Zorn decides to keep more than one “true” fullback.
How will Zorn use Portis? A lot, that’s for sure. Expect Zorn to have Portis carry the offense, especially during an opening month that includes all three NFC East road games. An effective Portis would allow quarterback Jason Campbell to become accustomed to the new passing game. In Seattle, Mike Holmgren used Shaun Alexander an average of 331 times from 2001 to 2005.
Zorn already has said Portis won’t have the freedom to take himself out of games, which means No. 26 will have to be a workhorse and the offense will run based on how he performs. He will be 27 by opening night but already has 1,710 career carries. He’s armed with a pay raise and didn’t have any offseason surgeries. It’s time to for him to become more of a big-play performer.
Wednesday — Receivers/tight ends