The Washington Redskins have been known as a franchise that loves to run the ball, and what better way to get back to prominence than “running the rock” down the opposition’s throat. Leading the way for this 2017 squad at the running back position are “Fat” Rob Kelley, speedster Chris Thompson, rookie Samaje Perine, and recently demoted/disgruntled Matt Jones. Further down the depth chart are Mack Brown and Kenny Hilliard, who may have trouble finding a roster spot for the upcoming season, unless they excel at special teams.
First, let’s take a look at Rob Kelley, as he is viewed as the primary running back in this backfield. He came onto the scene early in the 2016 season when Matt Jones’ fumbling issues resurfaced. Kelley made the most of his opportunities, and earned the favor of head coach Jay Gruden. Kelley, who accumulated 704 rushing yards from scrimmage in 2016, started nine games, and appeared in all but one of the sixteen regular season games.
As far as Chris Thompson is concerned, he showed incredible flashes of brilliance in the backfield last season, and was a reliable target for Kirk Cousins. On top of that, Thompson is a solid runner of the football, as he contained a solid 5.2 yards per carry average last season. Thompson will continue to hone his craft during the 2017 season, as it may lead to getting more touches.
Next up is the dynamic rookie running back, Samaje Perine. Gruden loves talking about his fourth-round running back from Oklahoma, who currently holds the Sooners all-time rushing record at 4,122 yards from scrimmage. Oh, and that was all without playing in senior year as well. Gruden was recently quoted on Perine by noting the following:
“You could see that his pad level is always down, he’s got good vision, he’s got good feet in the hole and he caught the ball well.”
Last up is the disgruntled running back, Matt Jones. Jones, who was drafted out of Florida in the third round of the 2015 NFL Draft, was brought in to be the understudy to Alfred Morris. He saw more action as Morris lost favor to Gruden, but as mentioned previously, Jones had a lot of trouble with turnovers (a death sentence for running backs). The running back has recently requested a trade from the Skins, and is attempting to remain professional, as he tries to find his way back into the good graces of Gruden and the coaching staff.
Overall, expect this group of running backs to serviceable, but they won’t be outstanding during the 2017 season. However, if Samaje Perine is as good as Gruden claims, the Skins will literally be “off and running” to a great start of 2017.
Photo Credit: Washington Redskins official website: redskins.com