Redskins running back Tim Hightower has been a homerun threat so far this preseason, gaining 114 yards over the first two games, on just 16 carries. He has also tacked on another two catches for 15 yards, showing his ability to be productive in all facets of the offense.
Tonight should be the first opportunity for extended playing time for the back, and it will be interesting to see how he carries the load. One thing that’s certain, however, is his approach and commitment to improve.
Hightower had a phone interview earlier this week with Gregg Rosenthal of PFT Live to explain his road to Washington and how he’s embraced the opportunity.
In his first conversations with the coaching staff and front office, they told him that he would have an opportunity to start and play a lot:
That’s all I ever wanted. I don’t need a handout, I don’t need any pats on the back. I just want the opportunity. And I felt like my opportunity, that door was kind of closing in Arizona. One door was closing and the other one was opening, so I’m just fortunate and I’m happy to be here.
Hightower also noted how head coach Mike Shanahan and assistant head coach Bobby Turner have produced some of the best backs from humble beginnings. While it’s nice to know, it’s not enough for him:
Any running back who knows anything about football, who knows the history of running backs and certain running systems and styles, you have to respect where Coach Shanahan has coached and the success that he’s had…It’s definitely something I’m aware of, but not something that I’m gonna hang my hat on and say, “OK, I’m in this system so that guarantees me anything.” All that does is give me an opportunity.
Even though Hightower is new in town, he’s been able to assess the organization based on what he’s seen in 2011:
There’s a standard that’s set and an expectation that’s set from the running backs, to the offensive line, to every single position, every single man is accountable for his job…That’s one of those things you have when there’s a good system in place, and every man is accountable, you allow success to happen.
He goes on to explain how he’s run well this preseason thanks to his preparation in the offseason. I don’t get the impression that Hightower is egotistical in the least, but the best matter-of-fact statement in the interview is, “Being a complete running back, that makes you hard to keep off the field.”
The last really profound answer of the interview was how he felt about the Redskins fanbase and how that meshed with his own expectations:
No matter what the record was last year, no matter what the record was two years ago, and no matter who you have on your team this year, people are excited. They feel like they’re gonna win a Super Bowl every single year. Which is great, because that’s what my plan is, so they’re gonna get exactly what they’re looking for.
As Shanahan has said multiple times this preseason, “talk is cheap.” Hype has never yielded a championship, but hard work has, and Hightower seems to have the right combination of mental and physical preparation.
The will of Hightower and his teammates will be be tested tonight in Baltimore.
Tags: Gregg Rosenthal, mike shanahan, tim hightower, washington redskins
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