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Redskins Running Backs Are Young, But Ready To Make Impact


Of the six running backs currently on the roster, only Matt Jones and Chris Thompson have regular season experience. But Randy Jordan believes the entire group is capable of a strong showing this season.

The Washington Redskins' running backs corps may be young as a collective, but the group is excited to make an impact this season.

Chris Thompson, 25, is the group's elder statesman while Matt Jones is expected to be the team's new lead-back.

Behind them, Mack Brown, Robert Kelley, Keith Marshall and Kelsey Young have never received regular season action.

"They're an eager group of guys," Redskins running backs coach Randy Jordan said. "And the No. 1 thing because they are so young is the learning curves that we've got to get through and some pains that we'll have, but they're a terrific group."

Indeed, the Redskins turned over from an experienced running backs group from last season to a more youthful bunch, as the team elected not to re-sign either Alfred Morris or Pierre Thomas.

Morris, of course, was the Redskins' No. 1 running back since 2012, but didn't have quite as strong production in 2015 as fans became accustomed to seeing.

He recorded career lows in yards (751), average yards per carry (3.7) and touchdowns (one). He signed with the Dallas Cowboys in March.

Thomas, meanwhile, remains a free agent and the potential for a reunion with the Redskins remains an option, but for now Washington wants to see what the "receptive" group can achieve.

"I'm really excited about this group," Jordan said. "In terms of leadership you got a guy like Chris Thompson that has shown that he can play in this league and you've got a guy in Matt Jones, who's really eager to show what he can do on a regular basis."

Given a vote of confidence this offseason, Jones understands that an increased workload means that he needs to be better with his ball security.

During his rookie season, Jones fumbled the ball five times in 13 games.

In an attempt to smooth over the issue, Jones has been using a special ball that beeps whenever he isn't hitting all five pressure points.  

"The first thing when he gave me the football is that I couldn't make it beep," Jordan, an NFL running back of nine seasons, said. "and I'm the running back coach. I'm like, 'Wait a minute. Now I know the five points of pressure.' I thought it would be neat idea, especially with Matt and all of the backs. And it's gotten to a point now when he goes through his drills, he's looking for that football and it becomes part of the muscle memory in carrying it properly, high and tight."

Jordan tinkers with the ball, changing when it beeps to keep Jones on his toes.

 "I'm like, 'Hey, I want it constantly beeping,' and that means constant pressure," Jordan said. "I can say 'Hey look, we're going through the drill. When you get collision or you get ready for somebody to strip the ball I want to hear the beep.' You go from casually holding it to gripping it really tight, so it's been a really good product for us to use amongst the backs."

Jordan has already seen a difference in how all six running backs on the roster are holding the ball.

"We have made a really big emphasis on carrying it high and tight, locking up the wrists, folding the arms over and running behind your pads, because that's part of holding onto the ball," Jordan said. "If you don't get the ball exposed, then you won't get hosed is my saying. We don't want to get exposed, and so when you have that ball it's always a memory and muscle thing, but also you get a visual in terms of hearing it and when it's not beeping properly then you know you're not holding the ball properly."

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