Ryan Torain’s long wait is about to end. The third-year back entered training camp as the favorite to win the Redskins’ starting job but then missed the last four weeks with a broken hand.
Meanwhile, Tim Hightower – acquired during the second week of training camp to compete with Torain – has all but run away with the job, rushing for170 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries (an average of 6.8 yards per carry) in three outings.
Torain, who last season rushed for 742 yards on 164 carries (4.5 yards per carry) and four touchdowns while starting eight of 10 games, always tries to do and say the right things. When asked for updates on his health, he always defers to Mike Shanahan with his trademark reply, “Coach doesn’t like us talking about injuries.” When asked about adversity or success, he usually replies, “I’m just going to stay positive, stay focused and good things will come.”
So when asked about Hightower’s success, Torain did his best to convey his support as a good teammate, but admitted he’s itching to get going as well.
“I’m very happy for Tim, I’m glad he’s out there making plays and helping the team be better,” Torain said. “But I just want to go out there and help the team as well and think together we can have a great season. And I’m very eager. I expect to go out there and play hard, do whatever the coach wants. And if I get the opportunity to make a couple of plays, I’m going to do it.”
Mike Shanahan last week stopped short of naming Hightower the Redskins’ starting running back but said, “if you were betting in Vegas, you’d probably bet in that direction.”
Shanahan would have preferred to evaluate both backs head-to-head. The coach said he has a good feel for what Torain offers based on last season. But he still wants to see.
“Obviously, the more you do, the better off you are,” Shanahan said. “He’s been hurt through most of camp, and there’s not a lot you can do about broken bones. But we’re ready for him to showcase what he can do.”
In his short career, Torain already has suffered three injuries that have cost him significant stretches of time. As a rookie, he suffered a season-ending knee injury. The next year, he shattered his elbow on a helmet in training camp, and last year, he missed four games with a hamstring injury.
As Shanahan said, Torain must show that he finally can play a full season. The running back believes that he is capable of that. And having seen the progress the offensive line has made in its second offseason in Shanahan’s system, and the production from Hightower and rookie Roy Helu, Torain believes he can offer significant contributions as well.
“I’m very anxious. The line is working hard, doing awesome and they helped me get to where I am now. I’m excited to be out there for Year No. 2, be out there and move a lot faster,” Torain said. “The line’s going to open big holes this year. They’ve already been doing it for Tim and Helu. So I’m excited to see what I can do.”