The Redskins announced their first official depth chart of the season earlier today, and Tim Hightower sits atop the running backs list.
This isn’t a surprise, after the Redskins swung a trade to bring him to Washington (and incumbent Ryan Torain went down with another injury). Hightower represents an upgrade over anyone on the roster and provides durability to a position fraught with injury last season.
The only knock on him has been his propensity to put the ball on the ground, a Cardinal sin (pun intended) among running backs.
After practice today, head coach Mike Shanahan addressed what he sees when Hightower fumbles:
“A few of those have been on the handoffs,” he said. ”We hand the ball off a little bit differently and he runs quite hard. We’ll just keep on practicing it, having people try to strip the ball. Hopefully that will eliminate that problem.”
Some of his fumbles do happen on handoffs, and for those times, Shanahan is absolutely right. But Hightower also fumbles downfield because he refuses to go down.
Hightower understandably feels like he has something to prove, and has run as hard as anyone in camp right now. When he gets the ball stripped downfield, it’s often because he refused to go down, got stood up, and a gang of defenders wrestled the ball away.
Part of the issue is technique and knowing when to go to the ground. Part of that is protecting the ball as securely as possible when you get stood up. But part of that is because he flat-out refuses to go down on first contact.
And that’s the kind of running back you want.
I make no bones about the fact that I believe Hightower is the answer at running back. I know he has some fumbling demons to exorcise, but he brings a skill set and a swagger to this offense that changes how the offense operates on every level.
Sure, his presence helps the running game, but it also helps whoever is at quarterback, receiver, and offensive line. With all of his responsibilities, he’s able to bail out every other player on the field because he’s a complete back.
Check out the full Shanahan presser below:
Tags: mike shanahan, tim hightower, washington redskins
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