- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Ryan Grant already had worked out for the Bears and was in Chicago on Tuesday on the way to take a physical when he had to make a choice. Along with that possibility, the Washington Redskins put in an offer.

“[I] told the driver to turn around, take me to the airport,” Grant said.

With that, Grant flew to Washington to join the Redskins, who were in need of depth at running back. Roy Helu Jr. on Wednesday went on season-ending injured reserve with a sprained big toe on his left foot, and Evan Royster is dealing with a strained right posterior cruciate ligament.

And while coach Mike Shanahan acknowledged Tim Hightower was first on the list of candidates to replace Helu, his reinjuring his left knee put Grant front and center.

“His running style, I think he fits with what we do. He’s big and he’s fast, and he’s got some experience. He’s a very sharp kid, picks things up very quickly,” Shanahan said. “At this time of year, you need guys that they have a little experience, mentally they’re pretty sharp, they’ve been around football organizations similar to ours relative to the running game. I think he’s a guy in a couple weeks’ time probably could learn the system fairly quickly and help us.”

Given how banged up the backfield is, the Redskins need Grant to be ready as soon as possible. Told to prepare as if he was going to be in the mix Sunday at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, this is exactly the situation the 29-year-old wanted.

Grant talked about “opportunity in the backfield” behind Robert Griffin III along with several other factors that led him to the Redskins instead of the Bears.

“RG3, No. 1, is super talented,” he said. “I think he opens things up for an offense. He makes things exciting. With coach Shanahan, his track record speaks for itself. I like what they do offensively, and what they’re trying to do. I think this team has a lot of promise.”

While starter Alfred Morris has been impressive for a sixth-round pick, he’s no Matt Forte, even though the Bears running back is battling a sprained ankle.

Grant’s presence changes the Redskins‘ running back landscape. He is an established NFL back with 4,016 yards and 25 touchdowns, all with the Green Bay Packers.

“It doesn’t push me more than I’m already pushing myself. I hold myself at a high standard; we all hold ourself at a high standard,” Morris said. “Nothing’s promised, especially in this league, so we’re definitely going to work hard. But adding Ryan to the stable of backs we already have is definitely going to only make all of us better. He’s a great competitor, and we’re going to continue to push each other and may the best man stay in the backfield.”

For now, that man is Morris.

“He is an every-down back right now. We’ll kind of go with our gut,” Shanahan said. “We don’t want to overplay him but play him enough where he’s going to carry the majority of the plays unless he gets tired.”

Given his impressive resume, Grant said “initially” he was surprised not to have a job sooner.

“But the way the business goes and the way our position has gone, not really,” he said. “I had opportunities, but I was just looking for the right one.”

This could turn out to be the right one if Grant is ready to contribute right away.

One major advantage Grant and Morris have is that they’re healthy. Helu is out of the picture, and Royster will have to play catch-up while being hampered.

“It definitely puts me at a disadvantage because I can’t take all the reps that they’re getting,” Royster said. “I’m going to go out there and do everything that I can, but obviously two days out I’m not going to be able to do everything quite yet. It definitely puts me back because they’re getting more reps, and the coaches are getting to see them play more than they’re getting to see me.”

And while Royster said Grant’s arrival doesn’t change the competition, it might be ramped up this week.

“It’s just another guy who’s coming in, competing for a job,” he said. “We’ve got to step our game up to keep our position and to keep making this team better.”

Grant might not be a huge factor right away, but should be able to fill in running the ball, catching it and in pass protection.

“He’s a pretty good-sized kid where he can block, he’s got speed,” Shanahan said. “When we looked at Ryan, we thought he could do a little bit of everything.”

Rich Campbell contributed to this report.

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