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Posted at 3:03 PM ET, 12/10/2010

Ryan Torain's return could boost running game

By Rick Maese

The Redskins have ran the ball fewer than 20 times in four of their past five games. For various reasons, coaches have turned more often to the passing game. But with Ryan Torain expected to return to the lineup Sunday, there's a chance they have someone in the backfield again they feel comfortable feeding the ball to.

Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan stopped short of saying Torain gives them more flexibility, but he's much more of a proven commodity than the other options, James Davis and Keiland Williams.

"All of our guys do the same stuff, but [Torain's] a guy who has done it and we have had some success with this year. It is good to have him out there."

They key now will be to keep him healthy. Torain initially hurt his hamstring on Oct. 31. He tried to return Nov. 15 but aggravated the injury in pregame warm-ups and hasn't played since. So, given the injury, will coaches go a bit easier on him this Sunday?

"I think you're always careful," Coach Mike Shanahan said. "That's why you've got to make sure he is full-speed and how he practices, it's all part of the evaluation. The longer a guy's out, the more careful you've got to be."

In practice this week, both Torain and Davis practiced with the first team.

Davis was added to the 53-man roster prior to the Nov. 28 game against Minnesota. He's had 51 yards on 15 carries in the two games since then.

"I'm just trying to get a feel for James right now," Mike Shanahan said. "I thought he did a good job, considering it was his first time on our football team, both catching and running. Kind of get a feel for a guy as the game goes on. Limited reps -- but what I saw, I liked."

By Rick Maese  | December 10, 2010; 3:03 PM ET
 
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Comments

"Ryan Torain's return could boost running game"

Sorry Rick, but this headline is one of the many reasons I often skip right to the comments. If not for your time travelling abilities I'd call for your ouster.

Posted by: RomoLongballs | December 10, 2010 3:09 PM | Report abuse

Not being down by two touchdowns before the first commercial could also boost the running game.

Posted by: PlayAction | December 10, 2010 3:13 PM | Report abuse

Just the simple act of putting the ball into the hands of a running back could boost their game too.

Who's calling these plays, anyway?

If I didn't know better, I'd swear it was the head coach's daughter or something.

Posted by: Vic1 | December 10, 2010 3:18 PM | Report abuse

Just for reference:

The Redskins 53 man roster is getting younger right before our eyes. At the start of the season, the average age of the Redskins roster was 28.02, which was the oldest in the league. Currently, with only 52 men on the roster, our average age is 27.42. If that had been our average age at the beginning of the season, we would have been the 8th oldest team. If we sign a player off of our practice squad to fill the 53rd spot, our average age will dip slightly lower still to between 27.37 and 27.32 (no one on our practice squad is older than 25 or younger than 22). The youth movement has already begun!

(I could not find any data about the current average age of the other 31 teams, and I am not about to do the math myself!)

Posted by: kaasmaster | December 10, 2010 3:20 PM | Report abuse

So glad for a new thread, was getting tired of seeing people sing the praises of Jay Cutler.

So much easier to win when your defense is among the 5 best defenses in yds/attempt, yds/carry AND turnovers. Plus, with Devin Hester returning kicks, you got some of the league's best special teams.

Lots easier to win when you defense is among the league's best.

Posted by: zcezcest1 | December 10, 2010 2:47 PM | Report abuse

If the Bears switched to a 3-4 and deactivated Peppars, they're D would suck like ours

Posted by: pabrian2003 | December 10, 2010 3:20 PM | Report abuse

Torain.

I really really hope this hammy thing is behind him. Injured hammies can happen on their own, or they are often the collateral damage of having bad knees (see: Kelly, Malcolm)

If I'm not mistaken, doesn't Torain have a bit of an injury history in the knees?

Anyhow, with this season already in toilet, it would be a nice boost to see Torain finish the season strong and healthy and grinding out some 100 yard games.

Posted by: p1funk | December 10, 2010 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Just for reference:

The Redskins 53 man roster is getting younger right before our eyes. At the start of the season, the average age of the Redskins roster was 28.02, which was the oldest in the league. Currently, with only 52 men on the roster, our average age is 27.42. If that had been our average age at the beginning of the season, we would have been the 8th oldest team. If we sign a player off of our practice squad to fill the 53rd spot, our average age will dip slightly lower still to between 27.37 and 27.32 (no one on our practice squad is older than 25 or younger than 22). The youth movement has already begun!

(I could not find any data about the current average age of the other 31 teams, and I am not about to do the math myself!)
Posted by: kaasmaster | December 10, 2010 3:20 PM | Report abuse

I do like how our younger players are seeing the field more often. It's good to see our rookie TE get in for a couple plays.

Posted by: WishboneJr | December 10, 2010 3:25 PM | Report abuse

If the Bears switched to a 3-4 and deactivated Peppars, they're D would suck like ours

Posted by: pabrian2003

classic!!

Posted by: zcezcest1 | December 10, 2010 3:27 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: kaasmaster | December 10, 2010 3:20 PM | Report abuse

Uh oh. Another stats geek.

Reminds me of a certain southern belle I met while in the rutting season of my life.

When I asked her age, I was told, "A gentleman would never ask, and a lady would never tell."

To which I responded, "Well, I know for a fact there's nothing gentle about me, and from the looks of you, you ain't much of a lady either!"

Posted by: Vic1 | December 10, 2010 3:28 PM | Report abuse

So Pabrian,

Is there ever a right time for a defense to swithch from the 4-3 to a 3-4, or should they be locked into the same system for the entire future of the franchise?

If there is a right time, then when is it?

Should they change their personell first, or change the scheme first?

Should they do it in a year where they're expected to be playoff contenders, or in a year in which expectations are low?

Posted by: kaasmaster | December 10, 2010 3:37 PM | Report abuse

If the Bears switched to a 3-4 and deactivated Peppars, they're D would suck like ours

Posted by: pabrian2003 | December 10, 2010 3:20 PM | Report abuse
-------------------------

Were you slurping the Bears when Tank Johnson and Lance Briggs destroyed a Super Bowl team with their selfish antics? How about when their trade for Cutler and Gaines Adams didn't pan out immediately? How about when they got beat DOWN by the Giants this season?

Point is... the Bears looked almost as clueless as the Redskins the last 3 years, but yeah, lets ignore that and the fact that their division absolutely sucks this year and credit it all to Lovie Smith's deft handling of Julius Peppers.

Posted by: mattsoundworld | December 10, 2010 3:39 PM | Report abuse

So Pabrian,

Is there ever a right time for a defense to swithch from the 4-3 to a 3-4, or should they be locked into the same system for the entire future of the franchise?

If there is a right time, then when is it?

Should they change their personell first, or change the scheme first?

Should they do it in a year where they're expected to be playoff contenders, or in a year in which expectations are low?


Posted by: kaasmaster | December 10, 2010 3:37 PM | Report abuse

do you recall reading umpteen posts about a HYBRID this off-season.

the Packers got the players first.

is there ever a good time to deactivate your most talented player? smart guy?

Posted by: pabrian2003 | December 10, 2010 3:46 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: kaasmaster | December 10, 2010 3:37 PM | Report abuse

Don't bother. Pabrian live his life by 2 simple mantras:

"It's much easier to criticize than to be correct"

and

"Those who can do- Those who can't criticize"

Posted by: WaitingGuilty | December 10, 2010 3:50 PM | Report abuse

My mantra is to not have a mantra.

Posted by: PlayAction | December 10, 2010 3:54 PM | Report abuse

My mantra is drink and bone first.

Worry about pregnancy and STD's later.

Posted by: iH8dallas | December 10, 2010 3:58 PM | Report abuse

do you recall reading umpteen posts about a HYBRID this off-season.

the Packers got the players first.

is there ever a good time to deactivate your most talented player? smart guy?

Posted by: pabrian2003 | December 10, 2010 3:46 PM

1) The Redskins play 4 down linemen in nickle situations.

2) I asked what YOU would do, not what the Packers did.

3) When your "most talented player" refuses to do what the coaches ask him to do, and selfishly puts himself ahead of the team.

4) You didn't realy answer any of the questions, did you? smart guy?

Posted by: kaasmaster | December 10, 2010 3:59 PM | Report abuse

So Pabrian,

Is there ever a right time for a defense to swithch from the 4-3 to a 3-4, or should they be locked into the same system for the entire future of the franchise?

If there is a right time, then when is it?

Should they change their personell first, or change the scheme first?

Should they do it in a year where they're expected to be playoff contenders, or in a year in which expectations are low?

Posted by: kaasmaster

kaas -- that is a fair question.

If Shanahan did his due diligence and figured the 3-4 was better, he'd have been smart to part ways with guys whose games would suffer a lot in the transition while their market value was high. Andre Carter and Albert are tops on that list, but there are others.

Its then important to assess the likelihood of getting the key parts that you'll need to make a 3-4 work. Notably, the NT, but also the types of DEs and LBs that you'll need. Is that a 1 year thing?

Then you wrap those personnel situations into the longer term plans.

This team is a bad fit for a 3-4. It also isn't a good fit for making a rapid transition to a 3-4. There are many holes to fill across the roster and limited draft choices. Snyder will spend the $$ on FA, but those tend to eat up salary cap (don't think its safe to assume there won't be one), which creates a different set of issues.

If the 3-4 was a major priority, this would have been a good year to jettison Andre Carter and Albert for high draft picks (they WERE worth something at one time), forget about McNabb and fill other holes. None of those 3 guys would be here (none have made a huge difference this year) and be looking at around 4 addition of 2nd and 3rd round picks. Several of those could help you get the 3-4 parts.

The fan base would have given Shanahan the time to commit to a rebuild. What happened was mgmt tried execute a 3-4 switch, bungled it, and created a bunch of other issues that this team was not well set-up to handle.

Posted by: zcezcest1 | December 10, 2010 3:59 PM | Report abuse

My mantra is drink and bone first.

Worry about pregnancy and STD's later.

Posted by: iH8dallas | December 10, 2010 3:58 PM

Oh...I guess I do have a mantra after all.

Posted by: PlayAction | December 10, 2010 4:00 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: zcezcest1 | December 10, 2010 3:59 PM

You see Pabrian, That's what you call a well thought out answer. Maybe you should try it sometime.

Posted by: kaasmaster | December 10, 2010 4:04 PM | Report abuse

This team is a bad fit for a 3-4. It also isn't a good fit for making a rapid transition to a 3-4. There are many holes to fill across the roster and limited draft choices. Snyder will spend the $$ on FA, but those tend to eat up salary cap (don't think its safe to assume there won't be one), which creates a different set of issues.

Posted by: zcezcest1 | December 10, 2010 3:59 PM

It's not the cap, but it's approacheing FA in a fiscally responsible manner. Imagine the number of players the Skins could have signed if they didn't sign Albert. The one thing this new FO has shown is that they have a budget in mind for every position group and player, and are willing for the market to bear those numbers.

Posted by: TWISI | December 10, 2010 4:16 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: zcezcest1 | December 10, 2010 3:59 PM

You see Pabrian, That's what you call a well thought out answer. Maybe you should try it sometime.

Posted by: kaasmaster | December 10, 2010 4:04 PM | Report abuse
--------------------------

No it isn't!

"The fan base would have given Shanahan the time to commit to a rebuild. What happened was mgmt tried execute a 3-4 switch, bungled it, and created a bunch of other issues that this team was not well set-up to handle."

So fans would have accepted a rebuild if he asked for permission? How dare Shanahan rebuild without our consent, right?

BTW, what was this team set up to handle? Seriously. Because the West Coast and the 4-3 apparently weren't it's cup of tea. Neither was running the ball effectively. Or winning.

Sorry, I'm coming off a lil strong prolly but I just don't get how people don't see this as necessary pain, regardless of the symptoms.

Posted by: mattsoundworld | December 10, 2010 4:18 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, I'm coming off a lil strong prolly but I just don't get how people don't see this as necessary pain, regardless of the symptoms.

Posted by: mattsoundworld | December 10, 2010 4:18 PM | Report abuse

Don't worry, I know it's a growing process with the rebuild. That's why I stay optimistic through a season like this.

I look for the bright spots: Torain, Trent, Banks, Armstrong etc.

Posted by: iH8dallas | December 10, 2010 4:23 PM | Report abuse

fwiw, Kaas, though I haven't written a ZEKE'S UNIQUE PERSPECTIVES specifically about the 3-4, I've spent a good bit of it discussing mgmt approaches to various things and the 3-4 is a part of that. Reality is that mgmt hasn't done well.

fwiw, I prioritized the OL above everything else and was never a fan of the 3-4 for us. Still, if the 3-4 was something Shanahan felt a need to do in 2010, he should have focused 2010 on rebuilding. After all, did anyone really believe a converted DT (Lorenzo) was really going to be a successful OLB in a 3-4?

Posted by: zcezcest1 | December 10, 2010 4:24 PM | Report abuse

This team is a bad fit for a 3-4. It also isn't a good fit for making a rapid transition to a 3-4. There are many holes to fill across the roster and limited draft choices. Snyder will spend the $$ on FA, but those tend to eat up salary cap (don't think its safe to assume there won't be one), which creates a different set of issues.

Posted by: zcezcest1 | December 10, 2010 3:59 PM

It's not the cap, but it's approacheing FA in a fiscally responsible manner. Imagine the number of players the Skins could have signed if they didn't sign Albert. The one thing this new FO has shown is that they have a budget in mind for every position group and player, and are willing for the market to bear those numbers.

Posted by: TWISI

If you look at the 2009 front 7 (LBs and rotations DL) and ask who will be here in 2011, the turnover will be very high.

Daniels (age), Griffin (age), Albert (jerk), Carter (bad fit), Jarmon (bad fit), Rocky (contract), Fletcher (age) are all guys who are/could be gone by 2011.

The one sure fire keeper is Orakpo -- after that, maybe Golston? And I like Orakpo with his hand down better

The issue is part $$, but also the number of holes. By my count, it could be 6 of the front 7 that get changed (and yes, we have needs elsewhere).

Posted by: zcezcest1 | December 10, 2010 4:36 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: zcezcest1 | December 10, 2010 3:59 PM | Report abuse

Good answer, but not sure there are any absolutes for determining who is better suited to play one scheme or another.

Yeah, AH92 never bought into the plan -- that is, any sort of plan -- but a part of me still wants to believe that if he had, he could have been a beast in shutting down the middle. But unfortunately, it appears the only thing this Dood was not able to mess up was his own wet dreams of lots of sack time with the hooka- and stippa-honies.

As for Carter, the guy is still a hell of an athlete and despite his earlier challenges with the similar schemes in San Fran, was and is willing to give it his best effort. That counts for lots with me.

And even if he has looked out of his depth on occasion -- it's not necessarily all down to him either. One thing in his favor is that he's usually a pretty sure-handed tackler -- a rare commodity these days in the defensive secondary. If he were only given an occasional bit of help over the top -- I suspect he could still hold his own.

And it doesn't hurt that Alexander seems to have made a pretty smooth transition into the new scheme in his own right -- and is playing the position better than some might have expected.

Posted by: Vic1 | December 10, 2010 4:37 PM | Report abuse

I'm sure there are multiple super bowls on the way due to the 3-4

Posted by: pabrian2003 | December 10, 2010 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Zeke,

I agree with you on Carter, but I think that they felt like options were limited due to their lack of draft picks and the unusual free agency.

With Fat Albert, I believe that the Coaches were hoping that he would eventually buy into the 3-4 system, which proved to be a bad gamble. Albert has the capability of being a solid NT, but it is clear that he doesn't have any interest in that. If the Fat Albert gamble had worked, then Kemoeatu would have been a more than adequate choice as a backup.

Carriker was brought in to be the type of 3-4 DE that they want, and I think he can be that guy if there are other solid pieces around him. Holliday was brought in and Daniels retained as the type of low-priced-veteran-stop-gaps that the team appears to be using to fill out the roster during this rebuild. They will be replaced soon enough, I'm sure.

IF the Fat Albert as NT gamble had worked, then the defense would only be one DE and one OLB from being a pretty solid 3-4.

Posted by: kaasmaster | December 10, 2010 4:39 PM | Report abuse

Reminds me of a certain southern belle I met while in the rutting season of my life.

When I asked her age, I was told, "A gentleman would never ask, and a lady would never tell."

To which I responded, "Well, I know for a fact there's nothing gentle about me, and from the looks of you, you ain't much of a lady either!"

Posted by: Vic1 | December 10, 2010 3:28 PM | Report abuse

And yet, you still were looking for a poke.

Posted by: Rando | December 10, 2010 4:40 PM | Report abuse

Reality is that mgmt hasn't done well.

Posted by: zcezcest1 | December 10, 2010 4:24 PM | Report abuse

Examples? Any other than handling of AH?

Think they did pretty well given the circumstances.

Get the feeling your idea of rebuild is blow up roster and trade all assets. Which isn't a serious strategy that any good "mgmt" would pursue.

Posted by: PortisPocketsStr8 | December 10, 2010 4:41 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, I'm coming off a lil strong prolly but I just don't get how people don't see this as necessary pain, regardless of the symptoms.

Posted by: mattsoundworld | December 10, 2010 4:18 PM | Report abuse

Don't worry, I know it's a growing process with the rebuild. That's why I stay optimistic through a season like this.

I look for the bright spots: Torain, Trent, Banks, Armstrong etc.

Posted by: iH8dallas | December 10, 2010 4:23 PM | Report abuse


The problem with management is the mixed signals about transition and rebuilding.

I was 100% behind the Shanaplan - dumping a bunch of under-acheiving vets like C.Griffin, Rock, ARE, etc. to bite the bullet cap-wise and make room for some fresh blood.

I was behind sifting FA for some lower-budget pickups - Kory Lichensteiger, Artis Hicks, etc.

I was absolutely prepared to bite the bullet for a year or 2 of sub-500 seasons b/c it looked like we were purging and rebuilding sensibly and we've NEVER done that in the last dozen years.

And then something happened...

Then we traded 2 high draft picks for 33 year old Donovan McNabb.

If that wasn't an about-face in terms of going through transition/rebuilding, I don't know what is.

Then we fail to trade AH for a draft pick - now we will cut him in the offseason for nothing.

That's what ticks me off about all this.

Are we rebuilding? Really? How exactly are we doing that?

You don't bring in Donovan McNabb at 33 years old, scoff at opportunities to stockpile draft picks and then ask me to be patient and understand that it's a process...


Posted by: p1funk | December 10, 2010 4:41 PM | Report abuse

I would have run the 4-3 utilizing a dominant 3 technique tackle, stuck with Campbell and started my 2nd round guard all year. And if that got me to 3-13 I would take another O lineman or RB and eventually have a good line

Posted by: pabrian2003 | December 10, 2010 4:43 PM | Report abuse

And yet, you still were looking for a poke.

Posted by: Rando | December 10, 2010 4:40 PM | Report abuse

As my dear old granny used to say, "Treat a lady like a biotch... and a biotch like a lady, and you'll never be lonely."

Or Henny Youngman: "Now take my wife... please!"

Don't forget to tip your bartender and tell your friends I'll be here all week.

Posted by: Vic1 | December 10, 2010 4:46 PM | Report abuse

IF the Fat Albert as NT gamble had worked, then the defense would only be one DE and one OLB from being a pretty solid 3-4.

Posted by: kaasmaster | December 10, 2010 4:39 PM | Report abuse

It was a gamble with pi$$-poor odds from the get-go.

I don't know if AH could have sent any clearer signals that he was NOT going to be on board with that gamble from the very beginning.

What ended up happening was precisely what was likely to happen under the circumstances.

Stupid stubborn management should have cut bait and gotten a pick for our supposed "transition" when they had the chance.

And while I'm at it, we should have traded guys like ROcky MacIntosh and Carlos Rogers this season too and gotten back some draft picks as well. It was obvious from the get-go that these guys were going to demand top $ at the end of their contracts; it's obvious we aren't going to pay them. We should have traded them for mid-round picks in the middle of the season a-la Randy Moss.

Now both of those guys are going to walk for free at the end of this worthless season and we are going to get nothing, zippo, zilch back on them.

Posted by: p1funk | December 10, 2010 4:51 PM | Report abuse

"The fan base would have given Shanahan the time to commit to a rebuild. What happened was mgmt tried execute a 3-4 switch, bungled it, and created a bunch of other issues that this team was not well set-up to handle."

So fans would have accepted a rebuild if he asked for permission? How dare Shanahan rebuild without our consent, right?

BTW, what was this team set up to handle? Seriously. Because the West Coast and the 4-3 apparently weren't it's cup of tea. Neither was running the ball effectively. Or winning.

Sorry, I'm coming off a lil strong prolly but I just don't get how people don't see this as necessary pain, regardless of the symptoms.

Posted by: mattsoundworld

Its Friday, man!! When I say the fans would have accepted it, I mean they would have kept buying season tickets and stuff, with the expectations of this team finally being run well and hope for a good team in the not distant future.

And our defense, while not getting many turnovers, was reasonably good in a 4-3 and I would have liked to have seen Orakpo and Carter as DEs together in a 4-3 in 2010. If I could, I'd take the same cast of defensive players and put Gregg Williams in charge of it and we'd be just fine. The 3-4 conversion was not necessary -- and certainly it wasn't necessary to start it this year.

On offense, we had further to go. Here's what I'd hoped to have seen. An OL that consisted of TW, Dock, Pouncey (use McNabb picks + Fred Davis for him), Mankins (use 2011 2nd for him) and Brown. QB is Campbell, RBs are what we've got now (would have let Portis go, never would have bothered with Larry Johnson).

That OL would have been solid enough to create a decent run game and enough time for Campbell to have a chance.

Posted by: zcezcest1 | December 10, 2010 4:58 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: p1funk | December 10, 2010 4:51 PM

In regareds to Fat Albert, the best course of action would have been to cut him before the date for the 21 million bonus. I which case we would have got nothing in return for Albert, but wouldn't have lost the 21 million.

Before then it would have been hard to trade him because whoever got him would have had to pay the rest of his contract including the bonus. I think they tried, but didn't get any takers.

After we paid the bonus, it would have been hard to get anything in return that would be anywhere near the value of that bonus. If what was reported was true, then our best offer was a 4th round pick. If we had taken that offer, that would essentialy mean that we paid 21 million to get that 4th round pick. That is hardly a deal.

I think that's why they went with the low odds gamble. It's not what I would have done (I would never have signed him in the first place!, but if I had inherited him I would have gone with the first option), but I understand why they tried it. We may yet get something in return for Albert.

As for Rocky and Carlos, I think they will get contracts to remain Redskins next year. The coaches seem happy with their perfomance for this season.

Posted by: kaasmaster | December 10, 2010 6:25 PM | Report abuse

In regareds to Fat Albert, the best course of action would have been to cut him before the date for the 21 million bonus.

Posted by: kaasmaster | December 10, 2010 6:25 PM

I believe the bonus was guaranteed and we had to pay it even if we cut him. There was no best time to cut him, and we still haven't cut him.

Posted by: beep-beep | December 10, 2010 6:44 PM | Report abuse

We beat the Bears and the Packers.

The 3-4 defense never works right away, bailing on it now would show ADD, something most of you are familiar with.

Haynesworth will be traded, not released.

If Shanahan would have cut AH b4 the 21 mill, think of what the head-hunt would have been like for Snyder and Shan-Allen...the Racism card would have been thrown all over the place, and everyone would have second-guessed the move

I love Anthony Armstrong.

Posted by: wewbank1 | December 11, 2010 7:33 AM | Report abuse

zcezce....You believe that a 2nd round pick and Fred Davis are worth a first round pick? You, my friend, are delusional. Go back to Madden football.

Posted by: wewbank1 | December 11, 2010 7:52 AM | Report abuse

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