A little speed goes a long way

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After Mike Shanahan was fired as coach, the new regime cut Alridge. But Shanahan recommended him to the Redskins. The Minnesota Vikings also were interested, but Washington had dibs on Alridge because it had a worse record last season.

Alridge said the Redskins were his first choice because he admires their Pro Bowl back.

“I like Clinton Portis,” he said. “CP is one of my favorite players. It doesn’t help my chances, but I can learn a lot from him. He’s the best blocking back in the game. Period. Hands down.”

Alridge is an old-fashioned scatback, a third-down back or “situational player” in today’s NFL. The label he prefers is “game-changer.”

He also returns kicks, so he will get a good look in the preseason, and his value will increase if he’s able to make plays returning punts. The Redskins tied for 22nd in punt returns, and Antwaan Randle El’s 21 fair catches led the league.

Although Alridge caught a lot of passes in college, his catching skills still needs work.

“Very good speed, very explosive,” Redskins coach Jim Zorn said. “His hands are improving as well. That’s the thing I would hope that happened during these [workouts]. He can catch the ball out of the backfield, and he can obviously catch punts and kickoffs. He’s definitely improving. Even though he’s undersized, he has talent.”

Running backs coach Stump Mitchell said he is looking forward to watching Alridge during the preseason “to see if he can give us that other dimension, that if we get him in the open, he can take it the distance.”

Alridge already knows the answer to that.

“There’s a chance for me to go the distance every time I touch the ball,” he said.

Note - The Redskins, who were taken bowling by Zorn instead of practicing Tuesday, announced the hiring of Bill Baker as an area scout. Baker has nearly two decades of NFL experience, including six years with Miami (2003-08) and nine seasons with Atlanta (1990-98). With the Falcons, he worked with Redskins director of player personnel Scott Campbell.

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