NFL teams may be made up of 22 starters, but due to injury, ineffectiveness and a variety of situations quality backs-ups are extremely important for a team to get through the season. If not for capable players filling in for injured players like Pierre Garcon, Fred Davis and even RGIII this past season the Redskins wouldn’t have made the playoffs. They will once again need to rely some on their depth this season if they hope to contend again. Here are the most important offensive back-ups for 2013:
-Most Redskins fans would prefer that Cousins never gets into a game this season, but his importance to this team can not be overstated. The fact is Griffin is coming a serious knee injury and he may not be able to start the season or suffer some sort of setback this year. Cousins gives the Redskins one of the best back-up quarterbacks in this league, and the ability to still compete and win some football games if Griffin is out.
–Alfred Morris is the primary back, but last year he was overworked because there was a lack of quality depth here. Helu should change that, giving Mike Shanahan a viable back-up option. He can help as a pass blocker and receiver on passing downs (two areas where Morris doesn’t excel at), and if the worst happens and Morris misses some time due to injury he can be a solid spot starter. Given how important the run is to the Redskins offense it is important that the back-up spot is in capable hands.
-Moss could actually be defined as a starter as he actually will be involved in more snaps than “starter” Darrel Young at fullback. But since he technically isn’t a starter he’s listed here. Though Moss seems to be limited now to just playing in the slot he deserves a prominent spot on this list because of what he means to the team. Last year with Pierre Garcon banged up, Fred Davis out and Josh Morgan at less than 100%, Moss consistently came up with big catch after big catch, and was instrumental in a number of Redskins wins. Even if all those players were fully healthy, Moss would have made an impact given his route running and catching ability. This year there are still some injury concerns with some of the top pass catchers which could lead to Moss playing a more prominent role.
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-Paulsen ended up starting the majority of the season when Fred Davis went down. Though he wasn’t the pass catcher Davis was, he proved himself to be effective when called upon as a receiver. Paulsen also remains the Redskins best blocking tight end, so in a run first offense, his skill set has a lot of value.With Fred Davis coming back from a serious injury and Jordan Reed missing much of the offseason with his own injury concerns, Paulsen figures to be utilized quite a bit this season. Though his receptions should drop, he will give the Redskins a number of quality snaps.
-Last year the Redskins offensive line missed a total of one start between their 5 offensive linemen, its likely they won’t be so lucky this year. Pashos would be the top back-up tackle option if either Trent Williams or Tyler Polumbus were to get injured. Pashos could also be on hand if Tyler Polumbus falters again this season as the starting right tackle.
-Like with Pashos, the reality is back-up offensive linemen like Hurt will probably be called upon more this season. Though Pashos is currently the top back-up offensive tackle, Hurt could get consideration there as well. He’s also versatile enough to back-up the guard spots. Hurt’s versatility also ensures that he will be active on game days, which means he might be needed to fill in during a game, whereas a guy like Pashos could possibly be inactive (unlikely but possible).
-The Redskins don’t throw a lot which hinder’s Hankerson’s value here a little bit, but he could have multiple opportunities to help out this team. Garcon’s injury is something that could flare up at any time. Also, he’d be the primary option to fill in for Moss in the slot and could get a share of playing time at the Z position with Josh Morgan. Hankerson last year helped ensure that Garcon wasn’t missed too much, and could be asked to help again this year.
-Gettis sounds like he’s ahead of Josh LeRibeus at this point and could be the primary interior offfensive line back-up option. It could be another situation where in the game Hurt would get the call, but from week to week Gettis would be the better back-up option.
Who do you think are the most important offensive back-ups?