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Posted at 03:21 PM ET, 05/11/2011

Roster analysis: Running backs

The NFL Draft took place just more than a week ago, and whenever the lockout is lifted, free agency could begin. The Washington Redskins have money to spend and are champing at the bit, according to people inside the organization.

We’ve examined the Redskins’ linebackers, defensive backs, receivers, defensive line and offensive line , as well as the free agents at those positions. Now for the running backs.

Veterans: RBs Ryan Torain, Keiland Williams, Chad Simpson, James Davis, Shawnbrey McNeal, Andre Brown; FBs Mike Sellers, Darrel Young.

Drafted: RBs Roy Helu (Nebraska), Evan Royster (Penn State).

Expired contracts: None

Top needs: Durable starter, consistent third-down back

Mike Shanahan put an end to the Clinton Portis era, cutting him late in February, and based on the talent on the roster and acquired in the draft, the coach has confidence that he can win with youth.

Torain led the team with 742 yards and four touchdowns, but he missed four games with a hamstring injury. There are concerns about his durability. In three seasons, he has yet to play a full 16 games.

Shanahan is high on Helu and Royster, however, and said after the draft that both could challenge for the starting job. Helu is a speedster capable of hitting a crease and taking off. Royster has a fluid running motion, and Shanahan said he found himself rewinding film over and over to figure out how the Northern Virginia product was able to amass so many yards with such ease. Shanahan compared Helu to a young Portis and Royster to Terrell Davis.

Williams took on the third-down back role with Portis injured for much of last year. He had 65 carries for 261 yards and three touchdowns, and 39 catches for 309 yards and two touchdowns. He seems to be durable, and improved in pass protection as the season progressed. He could carve out a key role for himself if he can pick up blitzes consistently.

At fullback, Sellers will be 36, but remains a contributor as a run-blocker and special teams player, and occasionally as a receiver out of the backfield. Young could push him for playing time this year, however.

If the Redskins want to bring in a veteran running back, the free agent list isn’t impressive. Most available backs--players such as Brian Westbrook, Ricky Williams, Cedric Benson, Michael Bennett and Kevin Faulk -- are past their primes. The Redskins were interested in Westbrook as a third-down back last season, so another pursuit wouldn’t be out of the question, but if Williams continues to improve, Westbrook isn’t a pressing need.

By  |  03:21 PM ET, 05/11/2011

 
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