The Washington Redskins established their running game in Week 2, gaining 229 yards against the Los Angeles Rams. It was a much-needed performance by an offense that struggled during the preseason and in the season opener to move the ball on the ground and through the air.
While the Redskins haven’t been known as a running team under Coach Jay Gruden, offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh said the team will try to find success rushing the ball again Sunday night against the Oakland Raiders.
“I think any time you’re trying to execute a game plan, when something’s working, you’re silly not to stick with it,” Cavanaugh said.
Rob Kelley, Chris Thompson and rookie Samaje Perine each had over 65 rushing yards, and Washington averaged 5.9 yards per carry on 39 touches. The Redskins were able to establish the run early, with 167 rushing yards to 58 passing yards in the first half. It set a physical tone to the start of the game as Washington led 20-10 at halftime.
“We obviously had success running the ball early,” Cavanaugh said. “The first drive was an example — just getting good chunks. At that point, you’re nuts to say, ‘Now we’re going to just start throwing the ball every down.’ Vice versa, sometimes you come out throwing the ball a lot and have success, and we keep throwing it. I always say you want to have balance at the end of the game. Sometimes you don’t get it, because you’re so successful doing one thing. We’ll do what we’ve got to do to win — whether it’s run or throw.”
While the trio of running backs was able to get the job done, in part because of the holes created by the offensive line, it’s unclear how the backfield will look against the Raiders. Kelley is questionable because of a rib injury he suffered Sunday in Los Angeles. He practiced all week, but the Redskins could give more carries to Perine, who had 21 against the Rams.
Kelley’s injury could force Washington to dress four running backs, with Mack Brown on the 53-man roster. Perine and Brown have a combined 29 career NFL carries.
“[Brown] has great passion for what he does,” Cavanaugh said. “He loves the game. He works really hard. For two years now, I have been watching him work real hard for the scout team, and he treats it like it is a game. He takes the ball and runs hard and finishes. He understands run concepts. He hasn’t had a lot of work in protection, full-tempo protection, but he’s very capable of doing that. I just think he has got some explosiveness to him, strong runner. He can break tackles. So there is some real upside there; it’s just he has to get his opportunity. We will see if it is this week or down the road.”
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