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Silas Redd is a reminder of the powerful running game that used to be the central component of NFL offenses for decades. Think of Pro Football Hall of Famer John Riggins during the early 1980's as an example.
Signed by the Washington Redskins as a college free agent on May 15, the former USC Trojan is a downhill runner whose NFL.com profile before the draft read that he's "well-built with a yoked-up musculature and very good thickness."
While it certainly an impressive descriptor for the 5-foot-10, 200-pound back, Redd also uses his instincts to both power through defensive lineman nearly twice his size while also shaking them off if needed.
"I don't like to label myself too much because I also just let my instinct takeover," Redd explained. "If I feel like I need to make a move and juke someone, I'll do that. Then, if I feel the need to get some tough yards and be a power back so to say, then I'll do that."
Redd has had an impressive training camp so far, as he's climbed from the bottom of the Redskins depth chart to No. 4 entering Thursday's preseason opener vs. New England at FedExField through his patent gritty play.
Unlike some of his teammates who have made their name with shifty moves and breakaway speed, Redd has fought his way through defenses and enjoys playing with a physicality at a position where it is quickly being forgotten.
"I fight for those extra yards," Redd explained when asked how he turns a play that appears destined for negative yardage into one with positive results. "I fight to give that extra time to give the quarterback a lane to throw with the blocking and everything. I'm just a fighter."
His Journey To The RedskinsRedd's fighter mentality may have started during his college days.
As a freshman at Penn State, Redd fought his way up the depth chart, eventually seizing the No. 2 back role behind Evan Royster – his current Redskins team. He would finish the season with almost 500 yards.
Returning for his sophomore season, Redd overtook top running back duties after Royster was drafted by the Redskins and proceeded to rush for 1,241 yards and seven touchdowns.
But, before being having the opportunity to repeat his standout performance at Penn State, Redd suddenly transferred to USC. While he continued to show capable of shouldering a heavy load, his senior season was cut short due to a knee injury – an injury that very well is the reason behind him not being selected in May's NFL Draft.
Ultimately signed as a college free agent, Redd said the Redskins reached out to him about coming to Washington during draft weekend.
"They called me around the fifth- or sixth-round and they told me they were interested in me," Redd said of the Redskins. "As soon as the draft was over [running backs] coach [Randy] Jordan called me and said they wanted to sign me as a free agent."
His entire journey has been a "humbling experience."
"I've faced a lot of adversity in my four years, but you know God blessed me with my opportunity with the Redskins," Redd said. "I just thank Coach Jordan, [head coach Gruden], [President and general manager] Bruce Allen and everybody that had a part in it."
Playing In His First NFL GameRedd played in a lot of important games during his time in the Big 10 and Pac 12, but none of those games compare to what he'll experience at FedExField Thursday against New England.
Despite being the biggest moment of his football career, he isn't sounding like a player who has yet to experience an NFL game.
"I'm excited, man, very excited," Redd said. "I can't wait. First, first taste of the NFL at FedExField…is exciting."
His first dip in experiencing the NFL beyond his Redskins teammates was today against the Patriots.
Redd admitted that he was timid at times during live sessions against New England, but that he also had success as well.
"I just felt myself kind of being a little too hesitant trying to find my reads and things like that," he said. "Like I said, I need to just let my instinct take over and play, but tomorrow's a new day so I'll come out tomorrow and Thursday will be game day."
Five W's and One H
What is there to do in your hometown of Norwalk, Conn.?
"It depends, New York City is right there so usually I just go to the city or something like that."
Why is your name Silas?
"My dad's name is Silas, I'm a junior."
Who is your favorite basketball player of all-time?
"Kobe Bryant. I've been a Los Angeles Lakers fan since I can remember. I didn't get to watch Michael Jordan, so Kobe Bryant is my Michael Jordan."
When did you get your first car?"My senior year, 2006 Mazda 6."
Where would you be if you weren't playing football?
"That's a good question man, I'd probably be finishing school and wherever that takes me in my career."
How good were you as a lacrosse player in high school?"I was pretty good, I played defensive midfielder. Now I wasn't like a superstar, but I was pretty good in my league."