The Thursday Line - The Washington Redskins Go Big With Their Running Back Committee

I told Kevin yesterday that I had done my kicking and screaming on the Brian Westbrook possibility and I was finished with it. I am not prepared to discover the silver lining just quite yet though (too early in the morning for that for even me.)

But if Brian Westbrook comes to D.C., the committee we will have in the backfield could rival some of the better committees we have seen in recent years or even farther back. Congress will have nothing on this group. Clinton Portis, Larry Johnson, Willie Parker and Brian Westbrook...yikes. At the rate we went through running backs last season, coupled with the rate at which the above listed gentlemen get injured, it stands to reason we would hit the bye week with a Quinton Ganther type again, but it could be fun to watch however brief it lasts. I should note that when it comes to running backs, I don't get into arguments about durability. They all get hurt. They all miss time. The exceptions to the rule make no sense, like when Curtis Martin led the league in rushing in 2004 at the ripe old age of 31, or when 1st round picks with all the potential in the world get hurt before making any kind of mark whatsoever. Ki-Jana Carter hurt his knee on the third carry of his first preseason game. So I am beyond debating the health and injury issues of running backs. If these Four Horsemen (I will work on that one) begin the season on our roster, I am prepared to believe we have as good a chance at making it through the season with at least one still standing as we do with any other four running backs. But there are other things we can debate about this crew--and let's mix it up a little. (After all, I left out the running backs last week leaving this whole conversation for today.)

Over/Under: Receiving Yards for Clinton Portis---400

Clinton has not gone over 400 yards receiving in a season ever in his career. The closest he came was in 2007, when he got 389 yards. So the Under screams at all of us. I hate screamers. I will take the over. It isn't just that McNabb throws it to the running back more. It is that he throws the ball more period. Sure, the running game in Washington will be more robust than the ones he had to lean on in Philly under Andy Reid. But the balls that come Clinton's way this season will be less of the checkdown variety and more of the designed play variety. I expect this to result in more yards after the catch for CP in 2010. He only needs to average roughly 30 yards receiving over the course of 13 games to get to the Over here.

Over/Under: Rushing Yards for Willie Parker---400
I have no idea where to set this number in order to get people to take the Over (zero?) I am taking the Under because even if he is productive, he will be buried on the depth chart. He will need to break some long runs to even have a chance here if you ask me. Unlike others, I do believe he makes this team. But I don't believe he makes a huge impact. However, I think he makes a bigger contribution than say...T.J. Duckett. Any takers on that bet?

Over/Under Punt Returns for Brian Westbrook---.5
Now we're talking! This has stupid written all over it. But keep in mind we are talking about the Redskins return game...we should be so lucky to graduate to the stupid level. You are basically betting on there being one situation this season where we need it bad and Shanahan looks down the bench and sees he has one of the best returners in the game with what is most likely a very clean jersey. I will take the Over here because I think that if you can get past the age, concussions, absurdity, and lack of reasoning here, it makes perfect sense. The Redskins punt return game has been historically mediocre over the last decade or more, but we have captured lightning in a bottle from time to time. Santana has come in and pinch hit a home run. And wasn't that Eric Metcalf that stood up off his couch and returned one for a touchdown for Marty back in 2001? (It was.)

Over/Under: Touchdowns for Larry Johnson---10
This was a tough one to land on too...I can see him getting a lot of carries inside the 10-yard line in 2010. I took the safe bet with Clinton earlier so I am going all-in on the Over here. First of all, I think Larry Johnson is a lock to make this team. Secondly, I think his role will be clearly defined early in the season, when we will be to afford such delineations. With Clinton as the "starter", LJ will be used to spell him and will most likely come in on short-yardage and goal-line situations (no, Mike Shanahan has not called me yet to confirm this.) I remember a certain Gerald Riggs that served a similar role as a backup to Earnest Byner. Riggs tallied 11 rushing touchdowns in 1991 for Joe Gibbs. Larry Johnson could find himself in these waters in 2010. Given McNabb's propensity to throw it in the red zone, I think LJ will have to take at least a couple to the house from outside the 20, but it says here he is more than capable of doing so.

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