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His health is so important because there are significant questions surrounding second-year backs Roy Helu Jr. and Evan Royster, the other two running backs competing for significant playing time.

Helu wore down last year after he became the starter in Week 12. Royster lacks the big-play ability of Hightower and Helu, but still he finds yards. Royster will have to carry a big load if Hightower isn’t fully healthy, and that’s not the Redskins‘ best-case scenario because Helu and Royster are best suited to more tailored roles.

1. How will receivers’ injuries affect the unit’s ability to meet increased expectations?

Mike and Kyle Shanahan believe receivers Pierre Garcon, Josh Morgan and Leonard Hankerson will join Griffin to transform their offense into a juggernaut capable of winning championships. There’s a potential major problem this season, though.

Neither Morgan nor Hankerson fully participated in the offseason program because of lower body injuries that required surgery last year. The injuries affect both receivers’ running, which could be a significant detriment to their effectiveness. Both expect to fully participate in training camp.

Hankerson tried to avoid surgery to repair the torn labrum in his right hip but had it in February. As we’ve learned from Jammal Brown, who had a similar hip surgery in 2009, it can have lingering negative effects involving mobility, flexibility and speed.

Morgan ran gingerly during OTAs and minicamp. He broke his right leg and tore ligaments last October. Surgery to repair the damage included eight screws and a plate.

Let’s monitor how well Hankerson, Morgan and Moss can run. The offensive improvement Washington expects in 2012 depends on it.