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Why Tim Hightower could be in line for a significant role in 2012?

Steve Shoup

Personally I’m excited to see how the Redskins rushing attack can succeed behind 2nd year guys, Roy Helu and Evan Royster, but it is sounding very much like Tim Hightower may be the top back in DC. This is a bit surprising considering, he averaged just 3.8 yards per carry last year, and is coming off an ACL injury he suffered mid-last season. Despite that, media reports keep piling up (pretty much every local media outlet has talked about it as well) suggesting that Hightower will get the nod. It is without a doubt an odd move on paper, but when you really think about it, it makes some sense for one simple reason: Robert Griffin III.

Things are hard enough for a rookie QB, so anything the Redskins can do to make his life easier, should be at the top of the Redskins checklist. Hightower may not be a dynamic back, but he excels in two particular areas that are key for Griffin’s success. He’s sure-handed and smart coming out of the backfield. He can be an excellent security blanket for Griffin, and should be able to rack up some quality production. The other area that really stands out, is his pass blocking ability. Hightower is by far the best pass blocking running back on the Skins. And with a rookie quarterback with a questionable offensive line, any additional blocking is a major the passing game. Hightower can slow down opposing rushers to give Griffin a head start when he needs to run for it. Having any sort of head start could be deadly for opposing defenses, as Griffin is the type of guy where if you give him an inch, he’ll take a mile (which for the Redskins is a very good thing).

Now while I see Hightower having a significant role and it is very likely that he ends up with the most running back snaps, I still don’t think he’ll end up as the back with the most touches. That honor will still likely go to Roy Helu. Helu is without a doubt the most explosive back the Redskins have. Though he didn’t have too many big plays last year (20 yard + runs for instance), he has the ability, it just didn’t come out too much last year. Also by starting Hightower, the Redskins ensure that Helu isn’t getting too many touches per game, which may be one of the reasons why he wore down a little bit towards the end of the season. From most of the reports that have come out, the Redskins appear to be concerned about Helu’s durability (ironic that a guy returning from injury is apparently less of a durability risk). By starting Hightower you aren’t subjecting Helu to the intense pounding he’d take (both running and blocking).

It’s not a perfect system for the Redksins, as they will need to give Hightower some carries, and let Helu take snaps on plays where he is only asked to block, so as to not tip off the defense, but it could work. Hightower’s presence could be invaluable to Robert Griffin’s safety, and that is basically the only reason that matters.

So what do you think:

How will the snaps be split between the top three running backs?

How will the carries and yards be split amongst the backs?

And which back will lead the team in receptions?.

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