TAMPA, Fla. — Silas Redd ran behind the left guard for an 11-yard gain to open the third quarter, then streaked 20 yards behind the right guard two plays later. He tried vaulting over a defender for one gain and lost his helmet on another play.
There was no route the rookie running back didn’t attack during his final audition for a spot on the Redskins’ 53-man roster in Washington’s 24-10 preseason victory over Tampa Bay.
But all around him, Redd saw his fellow backs showing the same athleticism and zeal in what amounted to the last battle for a limited number of jobs.
“Every time we all get in there, we make something happen — top to bottom,” Redd said of his teammates and rivals for the two roster spots believed in play.
Pro Bowler Alfred Morris has locked up the starting running back job, and Roy Helu Jr. appears to have cemented himself as the primary backup. But Coach Jay Gruden may well keep four backs, in addition to fullback Darrel Young, provided the other two are an asset on special teams, as well, and ideally add a pass-catching dimension.
Thursday against Tampa Bay, three impressed: Redd, who gained a game-high 79 yards on 14 carries, including a 1-yard touchdown rumble; Lache Seastrunk, who exploded for an 80-yard touchdown reception while rushing six times for 23 yards; and second-year back Chris Thompson, who caught all four passes thrown his way and gained 18 yards on eight carries.
“You want that competition,” Redd said. “Along with the competition, there’s no animosity. We feed off each other and make each other better.”
Seastrunk echoed the thought.
“We all made plays,” said Seastrunk, a rookie from Baylor. “We’re all great backs. It’s gonna be really, really hard. And may the best man get the job.”
Earlier this month Seastrunk lost his beloved grandmother. He said he felt her presence Thursday as he ran nearly the full length of the field for the score.
“It was coolest feeling in the world,” he said. “I had to wave at her and say thank you.”
With Gruden forced to cut 22 players by 4 p.m. on Saturday to reach the NFL limit of 53, Seastrunk acknowledged that the next 36 hours would be difficult. But he said he’ll be at peace with the outcome.
“What God makes for you, he can take from you,” Seastrunk said. “God has me in His hands. My grandmother’s looking out for me. So it’s whatever He wants. It’s already written already. I can’t fight what happened. I only can control what I can control.”
Thompson, a fifth-round pick in the 2013 draft, missed the previous two preseason games with a sprained ankle. Thursday was his lifeline — one last chance to prove he could produce while withstanding the game-day pounding.
So Thompson said a prayer before stepping onto the field.
Afterward, he said he wished Gruden would keep all six running backs, even though he knew it would be impossible.
“We played well tonight,” Thompson said. “I hope I [showed enough], but all I can do is control what I do on the field. Now it’s in the coaches’ hands.”
Follow Jones on Twitter for up-to-the-minute news on cuts leading up to Saturday’s 4 p.m. deadline to trim the roster from 75 to 53 players.
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