The wait seemed to take forever, and Evan Royster struggled to endure it at times, but as he comes off of his best performance to date, the Washington Redskins rookie running back says he now believes that he benefited from coaches bringing him along gradually this season.
Royster – Washington’s sixth-round pick out of Penn State – spent the first 12 weeks of the season on the practice squad and made his season debut against Seattle. In that game, Royster got one carry – a three-yard gain.
The following week, he got into the game but didn’t receive any carries. Then this past Sunday, Royster had six carries for 44 yards and two catches for six yards.
“I got in the game and I wanted to prove I belong here,” said the 6-foot-1, 213-pound Royster, who on Washington’s final drive received two carries and picked up 14 yards on the first and six yards on the second.
Royster took the late-game carries as an indication that coaches are pleased with the progress he has made in the last three weeks.
“It’s been good for me to kind of slowly get broken in,” Royster said. “I felt really good going into this game and I was hoping for my opportunity, and I think I performed pretty well. A couple of carries I would like to have back, wish I had my footing a little better, but overall, I felt pretty good about how I played.”
When asked of Royster’s development, Coach Mike Shanahan identified the following areas of growth. “[Royster is] just feeling comfortable with our system, feeling comfortable with the blocking responsibilities, blitz pickup. The game slowed down a little bit for him. When you first put a guy in there, there’s so many different things they have to think about. If you put a guy in there after he gets a little more experience, then he gives you a chance to win.”
With fellow rookie Roy Helu leading the team with 27 carries for 126 yards, and Royster adding his 44, Washington racked up 170 rushing yards – their highest output of the season since Week 4.
“It shows we can be a good one-two combination,” Royster said. “We can pose problems for defenses, and we look to continue to build on it.”