ST. LOUIS — Ryan Torain finally heard the words he had been longing for all season long.
The Washington Redskins running back got the news from position coach Bobby Turner midway through the second quarter Sunday.
"He came over to me and said, 'Get warm, get ready, you're going in,' " Torain recalled.
The 6-foot-1, 218-pounder took it from there.
Torain rushed for 135 yards on 19 carries and scored on a 20-yard run in the second quarter to help the Redskins to a 17-10 win. Washington improved to 3-1 heading into the bye week. Torain, who had seen little action over the first three games, played a key role.
"It was a very emotional game for me just wanting to get out there and play," he said. "I just wanted to give it my all."
A fifth-round draft choice by Denver in 2008, Torain turned in what might have been the finest game in his three-plus years in the NFL. He passed the 100-yard mark for the fourth time in his career. And he did so in just 2 1/2 quarters.
"I finally got the opportunity to get out there and make some plays," Torain said. "It felt good."
Redskins coach Mike Shanahan was impressed with Torain's intensity.
"He looked like he was [playing] at a different level," said Shanahan. "Like he was possessed, breaking tackles and making plays."
Torain entered the game midway through the second quarter and immediately zipped over left tackle for a 7-yard gain. On the next play, Torain scampered outside, turned the corner and outran a trio of defenders 20 yards into the end zone.
"It was great to see him running like that," said left tackle Trent Williams, who made key blocks on both runs. "He was really getting it done out there."
Torain was slowed by a broken left hand in the preseason. The injury pushed him to the back of a crowded running back race behind Tim Hightower and Roy Helu, who combined for 75 of the Redskins' 83 carries over the first three weeks.
But when Hightower struggled with just 22 yards on seven carries over the first four possessions Sunday, Shanahan put the call out to Torain.
"Tim looked like he was a little banged up," Shanahan said.
After his first run of the season, Torain jumped up and walked back to the huddle with a huge smile.
"It just felt great to be out there working and being a positive influence for the guys, just helping to light a fire under them," Torain said.
The strong performance now gives Shanahan several options at running back with Torain as a potential starter.
Torain thinks his performance against the Rams should make him a candidate for the featured back slot.
"That's up to the coaches," said Torain. "I'm just going to keep doing what I'm doing."
Shanahan isn't ready to name Torain the starter just yet. But he is considering the move.
"The good thing is we got three guys at running back, and they all can play," he said.