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Snide Debate: How will the Carries Among the Redskins RBs be Split?

Washington Examiner columnist Rick Snider's first Redskins story was in 1983 and his work can be found at the and

Last week Rick and I debated how much of a role Joey Galloway will play in the regular season - this week we debate the RBs.

Topic: Say the team rushes for 1,800 yards this year, how does the yardage divide up?

The Redskins currently have signed to their roster: Portis, LJ, Willie Parker, Ryan Torain, Maurice Greer, and Keiland Williams.

Kevin: I was pretty sure the Redskins would only pick the top 2 of these 3 geriatrics, but now I might be changing my tune. From reports I've seen, both Willie and Larry are playing real hard at minicamp, and they want that #1 spot. Clinton I am really worried about. When a guy has dizziness for over a month, you can't just go into the season with him, LJ, and a speedster. Clinton technically hasn't been cleared to participate in contact drills yet - only minicamps, so they need all three. It's rather likely that one of these 3 can't make it through pre-season without getting hurt. Keeping all three leads to special teams gaps. To answer your question, I see Portis with 600 yards, Larry Johnson with 750, Willie Parker with 250, and former Broncos 5th round pick out of AZ State, Ryan Torain, with the rest. Torain has NFL experience and Shanhan likes him:

"He's one of the most gifted running backs I've been around for a long time. He is very similar to Terrell Davis when he came in," Shanahan said Aug. 6, 2008, the day Torain was carted off the practice field." 

Torain ran an unimpressive 4.6 at the combine, but has a great first move, so that makes him a great RB for between the tackles. After just re-reading my paragraph, and the brittleness of the 2010 RB situation, it's time to have my 8:30am pint of whiskey.

Rick: I still think Clinton is the big dog, but on this team that might only be 900 yards. I like depth, but not one for balance. Have one main runner and the others be role players. If there aren't injuries, Clinton should gain 1050 yards. Larry Johnson will get 400, Willie Parker 280. Ryan Torain is a keeper given his history with Shanahan. I'm just not sure what his role will be. Given injuries and the right side of the line a little shaky, and let's not forget that left tackle is a rookie, the running game may not be as good as the Redskins would like. That means more passing, especially if the right side falters.    

Kevin: OK, so now I'm going to battle you a bit. You just named 4 RBs, none of whom can play special teams, yet are all on the roster. So does that mean Josh Bidwell and Graham Gano are the mid-field blockers on kickoffs? And they still need a speedster. Most teams carry 3 RBs and we're looking at 5. How do you fix this? 

Rick: I think the roster spot will come off the defensive line or tight ends. They could use the H-block as the blocking tight end and just keep Chris Cooley and Fred Davis instead of three. With a 3-4 defense they might cut loose one more, though the scheme will be a 4-3 at times, too. You can't cut a linebacker in the 3-4 system and those guys play teams anyway. Sure can't go one less in the secondary. In a real jam, they could go for two quarterbacks and have one on the practice squad.    

I don't know how they can take any from the DL. Phillip Daniels just had microsurgery on his knee and almost all of the DL in camp did not play in the NFL last year. It is a bit worrisome in depth should one go down. It's going to be a tough decision for Shanahan, but obviously training camp will be very telling of everyone's health. Carrying two QBs is a good option because let's be real, if McNabb goes down...the season is lost anyway. Portis, LJ, and Torain is my final answer. Thanks again to Rick Snider...see you again next week.