- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The young NFL career of Ryan Torain has taught the running back, if nothing else, patience.

There was the fractured elbow. Torn anterior cruciate ligament. Pulled groin. Strained hamstring. And, in August, surgery that inserted three screws to repair his broken left hand.

“It’s definitely been a long career of being patient with injuries,” Torain said Tuesday at Redskins Park. “My time will always come.”

The hand injury buried Torain, last season’s leading rusher for the Washington Redskins with 742 yards in 10 games, behind Tim Hightower and rookie Roy Helu on the depth chart. Even though Torain was healthy when the regular season started, he didn’t play a single snap in the first three games.

But the 25-year-old Torain’s time came last Sunday. After Hightower aggravated a shoulder injury, Torain ran 19 times for 135 yards. He looked like a man cooped up for almost a month, zipping through holes and attacking would-be tacklers. .

Will Montgomery noticed. One run convinced the center that Torain’s relentless, bruising, borderline reckless style was back. That’s all it took. On the play, Torain ran to the weak side. A linebacker swooped in unblocked, but Torain juked right. The linebacker grabbed air while Torain sprinted 39 yards.

“He energized our offense,” Hightower said. “He energized me.”

Torain chooses his quiet words with care. Off the field, he carries a gentle demeanor, seeming like a different person than the 6-foot-1, 218-pound man who bulldozes linebackers and delivers adrenaline-fueled screams in the end zone after scoring. The contact, the downhill running takes a toll on his body. The injuries, Torain believes, stem from his aggressiveness.

He professes no annoyance at being marooned on the sideline for the first three games, when even tight end Chris Cooley got a carry. Staying positive and motivated were his goals, Torain said. He didn’t hang his head about Hightower earning the starting nod.

“I just showed the coaches what I could do,” Torain said, typical of his matter-of-fact pronouncements on his role.

Perhaps the biggest surprise was how little rust Torain showed. Familiarity with Mike Shanahan’s offensive scheme, after the coach’s Denver Broncos drafted Torain in 2008, helps.

“It’s tough to be in the situation where you were the starter and now you’re no longer the starter,” Hightower said. “You’re not even playing. You’re not even seeing carries. The next thing you know, you’re thrown in to run the football. … It can bring out the best in you.”

Added tackle Trent Williams: “We can’t get worse adding somebody like Torain. He’s such a talented player.”

When the Redskins return next week from their bye to prepare for the reeling Philadelphia Eagles, Torain faces another test of patience: finding carries in the team’s three-headed rotation of running backs. Each brings a different style. Shanahan wants to cultivate an atmosphere of competition for each position. And Hightower believes the depth will protect each back from the season’s pounding.

“I feel like,” Torain said, “we’re in a wonderful situation.”