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The 5 O'Clock Club: Pre-season position battles - Running Back edition

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It’s 5 o’clock somewhere...

The 5 o’clock club aims to provide a forum for reader-driven discussion at a time of day when there isn’t much NFL news being published. Feel free to introduce topics that interest you in the comments below.

When the Redskins take the field against the Baltimore Ravens tonight, possibly the most visible position battle on the field for the players in burgundy & gold will be the running back spot.

Recent history has seen a lot of turnover and a lot of surprises when it comes to Redskins ball carriers. Here’s a quick look at some of the players on the roster in recent seasons:

2010 Clinton Portis, Ryan Torain, Mike Sellers, Darrel Young

2011 Tim Hightower, Roy Helu, Ryan Torain, Mike Sellers, Darrel Young

2012 Alfred Morris, Evan Royster, Darrel Young, Roy Helu (IR)

2013 Alfred Morris, Roy Helu, Evan Royster, Chris Thompson, Darrel Young

2014 Alfred Morris, Roy Helu, Silas Redd, Darrel Young

2015 Alfred Morris, Matt Jones, Chris Thompson, Darrel Young

2016 Matt Jones, Rob Kelley, Chris Thompson, Mack Brown

This pre-season is shaping up to be another adventurous journey in deciding the running back depth chart.

Matt Jones, who was the lead dog this time last year, seems to be 5th on the depth chart, and in danger of not making the final roster after being benched in the middle of last season due to his inability to recover from his serious case of fumbilitis.

Rob Kelley enters the pre-season atop the depth chart, having performed pretty well after taking over the starting role from Matt Jones midway through last season. While “Fat Rob” gets a lot of love from the Redskins fan base that typically idolizes running backs and linemen, not everyone is convinced that he is a genuine NFL starter-quality running back. He will be pushed in camp -- possibly by Matt Jones, in an attempt to re-gain his role as the Redskins #1 ball carrier -- but most certainly by the Redskins 4th round draft pick from Oklahoma.

Samaje Perine is the rookie from Oklahoma who enters camp looking to earn a roster spot and climb the depth chart. Perine showed off a bruising running style in college that is sure to endear him to Redskins fans. Coaches are hoping that his tough running style will translate into more success in short-yardage and red-zone situations. It’s unclear at this point whether Perine will be used in tandem with another back (most likely Kelley), or whether he may have the talent to establish himself as the new Alfred Morris-type “bell cow” running back.

Chris Thompson is locked in as the Redskins 3rd down back. Jay Gruden has stated that CT has the skills to be an every-down running back, but that his small size and history of injury make it important to limit the number of snaps he sees. Thompson is a good pass catcher, and explosive back with the ball in his hands, and a highly skilled blocker in pass protection.

Mack Brown spent time on the active Redskins roster last season, but may struggle to find a spot in a more crowded running back room in 2017.

Keith Marshall was in training camp until he tore his patellar tendon on the third day of camp. The Redskins then waived him and signed coach Ike Hilliard’s cousin, Kenny.

Kenny Hilliard, 25, entered the NFL as a seventh-round pick for the Houston Texans in the 2015 NFL Draft. The 5-foot-11, 226 pounder has never recorded regular season action, but spent the entire 2015 season and Weeks 11-17 of the 2016 season on Houston’s practice squad.In the Texans’ 2016 preseason finale against the Dallas Cowboys, Hilliard carried the ball 29 times for 86 yards.Hilliard played collegiately for LSU, appearing in 48 games with seven starts in his time with the Tigers. He rushed for 1,547 yards and 27 touchdowns, tied for eighth-most in school history.Additionally, he tallied four 100-yard games during his time at LSU.

  1. How many running backs make the 53-man roster this year?
  2. Who lines up behind Cousins for the first offensive snap against the Eagles on 10 September?
  3. Which running backs are most likely to get cut from the team following the final pre-season game?

Poll

How many rushing yards will Samaje Perine get this season?

This poll is closed

  • 3%
    less than 250
    (10 votes)
  • 31%
    251 - 500
    (94 votes)
  • 44%
    501 - 750
    (134 votes)
  • 21%
    More than 750
    (65 votes)
303 votes total Vote Now