The Washington Redskins still are seeking consistency in their rushing attack, and may start a new running back Sunday. But once they can finally establish a reliable run game, offensive players believe they can legitimately rank among the league’s contenders.
“I don’t think we know how good we can be yet,” says Tim Hightower, who has started the first four games at running back. “We haven’t played the kind of football game that we know we can play. Defense and special teams have bailed us out. We’ve been good at times, we haven’t been good in the red zone and haven’t been good on third downs at times. We have a long way to go...but the more consistent we can become, the better we’re going to be.”
The Redskins rank 15th in the league’s total offense category, averaging 356 yards a game, but when it comes to scoring, they rank 22nd, with 20.8 points a game. Hightower & Co. believe that better production in the running game will set up Washington for more manageable third-down and red zone situations.
With a quarter of the games under their belts, the Redskins are hoping they can turn the corner and hold a collective focus on executing more effectively.
“Even on games where we only have 90 yards rushing, we’re a couple plays away from having 150,” center Will Montgomery says. “So I feel like we’re capable of producing each week. The learning curve, everybody’s getting it more. … Everybody’s just pedal to the grindstone and wants to do well.”
The Redskins still are sorting things out when it comes to their feature back. Hightower started the first four games, but struggled in the last two while nursing injury. Ryan Torain entered the last game and rushed for 135 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries, creating a positive predicament for his team.
Coach Mike Shanahan has yet to reveal which back will start Sunday when the Philadelphia Eagles come to town, but Torain believes that regardless of who starts, he, Hightower and rookie Roy Helu can combine to carry their team.
“I want to play just as much as anybody on this team, but we’re just going to work hard to make the team better,” Torain says. “It’s the NFL, and everybody can play. If Roy Helu gets out there and balls out, if Tim Hightower gets out there and balls out, if I get out there, the main objective is winning.”
Hightower agreed, saying, “It’s a lot of good competition. Whether it’s me, or Ryan, or Roy, it’s going to bring the best out of us, and ultimately make the team better.”
But that doesn’t mean Hightower is willing to hand over starting duties to one of the other backs.
“Is [starting] important? Yeah, it’s important. That’s my job, that’s what I do,” said Hightower, who leads the Redskins with 233 yards and a touchdown on 67 carries. “That’s what I take pride in. I take pride in coming in here every single day and playing to the best of my potential. As far as what happens? That’s not in my control. But I’ve go to show up and do my best every single day.”