Positional Review - RB/FB
We'll get through every position before the draft - promise, been sidetracked with my hockey work - and figured we'd continue with the glamour boys after beginning with quarterback last week.
Clinton Portis is the favorite son of this owner, and Portis's sway and influence with former Coach Joe Gibbs was a frequent topic among players, particularly on defense (many bemoaned what they considered to be a double standard by the head coach and management for players like Portis and Chris Cooley, in terms of what they could get away with and what was deemed acceptable). Owner Daniel Snyder and his handpicked football man, Vinny Cerrato, raved about Portis during their interviews with coaching candidates, professing him to be a true franchise back and one of the best in the game. ( Of course, you could ask LaVar Arrington and a handful of others how quickly you can go from being the chosen one with owner to being on the outs).
The rest of the league will be watching to see if/when Portis puts together another full season. If/when he finds as way to be effective/healthy/conditioned in the first six weeks of the season. If/when he looks like a consistent home run hitter, capable of breaking off a long run. Of course, the erratic play of the injury-plagued offensive line had something to do with Portis's inconsistent 2007 as well.
But regardless, he's the bell cow with this regime, no doubt about it. Former running backs coach Earnest Byner used to campaign for a bigger role for Ladell Betts, and was a big supporter of Rock Cartwright - but Byner was shown the door and no doubt Portis will hold considerable sway with rookie head coach Jim Zorn. I'd bank on him getting every chance to the feature back and workhorse, for better or worse.
Betts is as solid as it comes in terms of a No. 2. Cartwright has produced in his very limited window of NFL carries.
This is a position of considerable depth with Cartwright back on the cheap. Personally, I think Marcus Mason could prove a capable backup or change-of-pace guy at some point as well, and also contribute in the return game. But it's awfully hard, if not impossible, to carry four tailbacks, particularly if the Redskins do finally establish a solid back-up fullback to Mike Sellers as well, which would eat up a roster spot. I like the re-signing of Pete Schmidt in that regard.
Several teams weighed claiming Mason off the practice squad last year, and perhaps a roster battle of sorts could develop between him and Cartwright (a favorite of mine, who I thought had a Pro Bowl season on special teams last year).
With all of that said, I can't see the Skins doing much of anything at running back in the draft, not with so many other needs. Maybe they take a look at a fullback in the late rounds. We'll look at wide receivers/tight ends tomorrow and the offensive line Friday, then breakdown the D next week.
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