Running back still up in the air for Redskins

No ones sure who will carry the load yet

Dale Zanine—X02835
Aug 11

RICHMOND, Va. — It might be just one preseason game, but the Washington Redskins need to see more from their running back group after a 23-17 loss at Atlanta in the preseason.Matt Jones and Chris Thompson, the two experienced backs on the roster, managed just one yard on three carries. Yes, Jones had an 11-yard run called back. But even backup Colt McCoy had more yards (eight) on one play. It wasn’t good enough.The young backs fared a little better. Seventh-round pick Keith Marshall was hesitant at times. He did catch a pair of passes for 10 yards, but was limited to minus-1 yard on five carries.Mack Brown, a practice squad player last year, had 28 yards on seven carries and Robert Kelley totaled 40 yards on seven carries with a touchdown.The Redskins can’t afford to simply write that poor effort off as just one bad preseason game. They weren’t very good last season with Alfred Morris and Jones as the primary backs and they didn’t add anyone to the mix this offseason.There were plenty of reasons for those struggles on Thursday. On one run, the Redskins left a Falcons’ defensive player unaccounted for. Several times the quarterback called for a draw into a stacked box that went for nothing.And the backs were at fault, too, missing several cutback opportunities. It all added up to a performance that was far too reminiscent of last season when Washington was one of the league’s worst rushing teams.”We’re not going to panic after the first preseason game,” Redskins coach Jay Gruden said. “But we also understand that these games, you are what you are based on what you put on tape.”On the bubble:Defensive end Stephen Paea: Had a rough season with just 1.5 sacks after signing with Washington as a free agent. An early December foot injury ended his 2015 season prematurely. With Trent Murphy moving back to outside linebacker following the Junior Galette season-ending injury (torn right Achilles tendon), Paea is probably OK. Veteran Ziggy Hood has had a strong camp, however, and if young prospects like Corey Crawford and Matt Ioannidis (2016 fifth-round draft pick) also make a push, then Paea could be at risk. Expect the Redskins to keep seven defensive linemen as they did last season. The locks — for now — are Chris Baker, Ricky Jean Francois, Kedric Golston and free-agent signing Kendall Reyes.Redskins notes:• Center Kory Lichtensteiger was limited in practice last week because of a sore arm.• Left tackle Trent Williams is close to returning from a sore right knee. He didn’t participate in team drills at last Saturday’s practice and was out Week 1 versus Atlanta. But Williams is expected back for practice — the last official one in Richmond, Va.• Tight end Niles Paul sat out practice on Saturday. He tweaked his knee in the preseason game at Atlanta, though was able to walk off the field under his own power. Paul is expected to practice over the weekend.• Left tackle Ty Nskehe, the top reserve tackle, went down on a play in the middle of last Saturday’s practice after a defensive player rolled into his knee. Nsekhe stayed on the ground for three minutes attended by team trainers before eventually walking off on his own. But he did not return to practice.