Marcus Mason's chances of making the Redskins' roster are slim. Maybe none.
Still, the 5-9, 218-pound running back is hoping to take advantage of every opportunity. His first chance came in Saturday's scrimmage against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium.
With Clinton Portis sidelined due to injury and Ladell Betts and Rock Cartwright sitting out 11-on-11 work, the Redskins turned to Mason and veteran Derrick Blaylock to shoulder the workload.
Mason had several nice runs, including two successive carries for 12 yards and a first down. He finished with 12 carries for 34 yards against a historically stout Ravens run defense that also included many reserves. Blaylock added six carries for 20 yards.
Mason, an undrafted rookie signed by the Redskins last May, did well enough to earn praise from head coach Joe Gibbs. Now he could get an extended look as backups get the bulk of work during preseason games.
"I think Marcus, to be quite truthful, has looked good to us the whole way [through off-season work and training camp]," Gibbs said. "He's one of the guys I'm talking about [who has a chance to play in the preseason].
"He and Derrick Blaylock--we wanted to look at them both, so we held all of the other backs out of there. I think Marcus and Derrick look impressive to us."
Mason knows that he's a long shot to make the Redskins' roster.
Inside the Redskins' locker room after the scrimmage at M&T Bank Stadium, Mason was somewhat mystified that a reporter would ask him about his chances of making the regular-season roster.
"It's going to be tough for me because there are a whole bunch of running backs on this team," he said. "We have Clinton Portis, Ladell, Rock, Derrick Blaylock. That's a lot of talent. I just have to take it each day at a time right now."
The reporter persisted. Where do you see yourself fitting in, Marcus?
He replied: "Uh...Hopefully, somewhere down the line I'll get a chance to play. Right now, maybe it'll be on special teams."
Realistically, shining on special teams is Mason's only chance of sticking with the Redskins beyond preseason.
That doesn't mean he lacks credentials, though.
Mason starred at Georgetown Prep in Bethesda, Md.,, where he became the all-time leading rusher (5,700 yards) in Maryland high school history.
He went on to the University of Illinois, but decided to transfer to Youngstown State two years later.
In two seasons at Youngstown State, Mason compiled 2,739 rushing yards on 478 carries and scored 31 touchdowns. As a senior, he rushed for a school-record 1,847 yards on 302 carries and had 23 touchdowns.
Saturday's scrimmage in Baltimore was Mason's first NFL opportunity beyond Redskins practice.
He said it was fun to test himself against another NFL team.
"I felt we all did well," he said. "Everyone that was in there--the offensive line did a great job blocking and the fullback did a great job. We all had a lot of fun."