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Redskins Assembling A Fast-Break Offense


One year removed from fielding one of the quickest offenses in the NFL, the Washington Redskins have found a way to get even faster this offseason.

Last year, the offense scored 21 times on drives consisting of five or fewer plays. Twelve of those scores were completed in three plays or fewer.

With players like Robert Griffin III, Pierre Garçon, Joshua Morgan and Alfred Morris all entering their second season together, the offense has the ability—and speed—to be one of the best in the NFL.

At each of the skill positions, the Redskins can boast one of the fastest players among peers, with a healthy quarterback Robert Griffin III leading the way.

Head coach Mike Shanahan said it best when drafting the quarterback who ran a 4.3 and made it to the semifinal round of the US Olympic Trials in track: "[Griffin III's] ability to get on the perimeter and change defenses will be unique in the National Football League because he has Olympic-type speed."

With Griffin III eyeing training camp to return from offseason ACL surgery, the offense could have one of the most dynamic athletes in the NFL back under center by Week 1.

And if the leg isn't ready?

Supposing that Robert Griffin III is neither ready for the start of training camp or the regular season, the Redskins still have a speedy option in Pat White, who ran a 4.5 40-yard dash at the 2009 NFL Scouting Combine.

Kirk Cousins, the man currently leading the offense, is also no slouch, running his 2012 40-yard dash in 4.9 seconds. He ranked twelfth of 14 quarterbacks in his Combine class, but only three of those faster than him have registered an NFL start.

Had he come out in the 2013 NFL Draft, he would have been in the top-10 for speed.

Moving on to the wide receiver position, the Redskins started Pierre Garçon (4.4, 2008), Joshua Morgan (4.4, 2008), Santana Moss (4.3, 2001), Aldrick Robinson (4.3, 2011) and Leonard Hankerson (4.4, 2011) last year.

Granted, it has probably been several years since Moss ran in the 4.3 range, but he no longer needs to be the burner he once was.

Robinson is a guy that has retained a roster spot while acclimating to the Shanahan offense, in large part thanks to his blazing speed.

"Aldrick [Robinson] is one of the faster guys in the NFL," offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said last season. "He's getting better at his routes every day."

This is a big season for third-year receivers Robinson and Hankerson, as they look to become long-term fixtures in the offense.

They will be pushed in training camp by veteran speedsters Donté Stallworth (4.48, 2002) and Devery Henderson (4.4, 2004), who were signed on the final day of minicamp.

Stallworth has played in Washington before and brings an elite quickness even in the later years of his career.

Henderson spent his entire career with the New Orleans Saints and was the recipient of many of Drew Brees' go-route touchdowns. His 17.9 yards per reception are the best among active NFL players, and he has thrice led the NFL in yards per catch on a season.

Head coach Mike Shanahan has shown a comfort level with seven receivers on the roster, but that has always included specialist Brandon Banks. With 12-of-90 roster spots currently devoted to receiver, the unit is guaranteed to have no shortage of speed when the Redskins take the field in Week 1.

One outside factor that could affect how many wide receivers the team retains will be how many tight ends the team carries on the 53-man roster.

The Redskins return veterans Fred Davis (4.67, 2008), Logan Paulsen (4.78, 2010) and Niles Paul (4.4, 2011).

They increased their net speed with the addition of Jordan Reed (4.7, 2013), who head coach Mike Shanahan described as a guy just capable of getting open.

"[Reed] was a guy that had a great ability to make people miss. When he has the ball in his hands, he can do things with the ball that are very athletic," Shanahan said. "That is something that a lot of tight ends can't do.

"We weren't necessarily looking for a tight end, but when he was there we couldn't pass him up."

There are six tight ends currently on the roster, with most teams taking four tight ends on the final roster. There may not be a squeeze on the 53-man roster, but Robert Griffin III could have difficult decisions to make on which open receiver to throw to on game day.

Rounding out the speedy skill positions on offense, the Redskins made a concerted effort to find speedy compliments to starting running back Alfred Morris (4.6, 2012).

Morris had a historically significant rookie season, but admits that he rushed for more than 1,600 yards without his top-gear speed.

He made changes to his workout plan this offseason in an effort to find more speed, but strength likely remains in his strength at the NFL level

Watch out for the healthy return of third-year back Roy Helu Jr. (4.34, 2011), who brings top speed to the running back position.

Two seasons ago, Helu Jr. broke seven plays for more than 20 yards, proving valuable in the run game and as a receiver out of the backfield.

He will be joined by fellow veteran Evan Royster (4.5, 2011) and rookies Chris Thompson (4.3, 2013) and Jawan Jamison (4.62, 2013) as the primary competition for backup.

As the Redskins look ahead to training camp battles and the preseason, keep an eye on the track meet on the offensive side of the ball.

Armed with one of the fastest 90-man rosters heading into training camp, the Redskins should find the right pieces to be able to score points quickly in 2013.




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