Rookie running back Evan Royster has a lot to be thankful for this week. He was promoted from the practice squad to the active roster for the first time this season.
The sixth-round pick out of Penn State will be the fifth running back on the active roster this season, and gets his opportunity after the team released Tashard Choice.
"I was giddy all day, I was all smiles," Royster said, after learning of his promotion on Tuesday. "I've been practicing hard all season and just waiting for my shot. Now that it's here, I'm going to make the most of it."
Head coach Mike Shanahan credited Royster's ability to run against the first-string defense in practice as a good indicator of the progress he has made.
"He's very sharp and he picks up things quickly," he said. "We've watched him everyday, with his pass protection and the way that he runs against our defense. We just thought it was in the best interests of our team to give Royster a chance to see what he can do."
For the first 11 weeks of the season, Royster was a fixture on the Redskins sidelines, absorbing the flow and timing of the game. This perspective has helped him to grasp the offense better at the pro level.
"It's different when you're on the field, but you see things when you're watching it that you wouldn't see if you were playing," he said. "I'm looking forward to being able to transfer what I've seen on the sidelines to being on the field."
Royster has embraced the notion of being the next man up for a running attack in need of a spark. But he also admits to having overcome discouragement earlier this season.
"When Tim [Hightower] went down, I just thought, 'Oh, I'm next,' and I was really excited," he explained. "Then, they signed Tashard [Choice], and I was still like, 'Oh, maybe my shot will come.' A week or two went by and I was getting a little discouraged, but that's just the way it is.
"It's a business and you just have to make the most of your opportunities when the time comes."
Royster said that his skill set matches the prototypical running back for the Shanahan offense, and he feels very comfortable in the system.
"I think the one-cut, downhill runner is who I am and what I've always been," he said. "The zone-blocking is what I've run for 10 years now. I'm just going to get out there and run hard. I've got something to prove and I'm going to run like it."
Shanahan suggested that Royster could see playing time as early as Sunday in Seattle.
"We feel like he deserves a chance and one of the reasons why we drafted him was to give him an opportunity," he said. "We're going to give him an opportunity this weekend."