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Torain's Tough Running Is Opening Eyes


Ryan Torain is soft-spoken off the field. On the field, he does his talking as soon as the ball is in his hands.

His hard-nosed running has helped solidify the Redskins' ground game in the absence of Clinton Portis.

Torain rushed for 125 yards on 21 carries – a 6.0 yards-per-carry average – in the Redskins' 17-14 win over the Chicago Bears last Sunday.

It was his second consecutive 100-yard effort.

The first of his career came in Week 6, when he posted 100 yards on 20 carries in a 27-24 loss to the Indianapolis Colts.

"Ryan has continued to get better and better each week," quarterback Donovan McNabb said. "I think the confidence for Ryan has continued to grow – just kind of seeing the holes, watching things develop and doing a great job of picking up big yards for what we need."

Said Torain: "It's a great feeling. I'm happy to be out there helping the team win. I want to be able to keep doing that."

Torain's ability to shed tacklers has opened eyes.

Several times he has been hit in the backfield, only to break free for a sizable gain.

"Coach always says get back to the line of scrimmage if somebody hits you in the backfield," Torain said. "I just keep fighting and working hard and the O-line is opening holes up."

In the win over Chicago, Torain had two fumbles, including one in which he lost control of the ball after a ferocious hit by linebacker Pina Tinoisamoa.

So ball security is something that Torain knows he must focus on as the Redskins' starting running back.

Torain, a native of Topeka, Kan., entered the NFL as a 2008 fifth-round draft pick by the Denver Broncos, then coached by Mike Shanahan. His rookie campaign ended abruptly after he suffered a knee ligament injury midseason.

When Shanahan moved on to coach the Redskins two years later, he brought Torain along with him.

Torain led the Redskins' offense in preseason rushing yards, but it wasn't enough to earn a roster spot. He began the season on the practice squad.

"Ryan was struggling a little, but we knew he was capable," offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said. "We really hoped we wouldn't lose him by putting him on the practice squad. It panned out right and it allowed us to see some other guys. We ended up still getting Ryan in the long run."

A spot on the roster opened up for him after Week 2 when the team released veteran Larry Johnson.

Torain had started to establish himself in the Redskins' backfield when Portis suffered a groin injury.

He had a 36-yard run on his first carry as a Redskin (in Week 3 vs. St. Louis). His first touchdown as a Redskin came on a run up the middle in which he barreled over Philadelphia safety Quintin Mikell on his way to the end zone.

"That is how he runs," Shanahan said. "He runs hard and he can get low and run through some people."

With Portis sidelined, Torain was suddenly in the Redskins' starting lineup.

He said it was a long time coming.

"Every start means a lot," Torain said. "You don't get a lot of chances in this league. It's very competitive. Any opportunity you get, you have to take it and cherish it."

He believes the Redskins' zone blocking scheme suits his running style.

"I'm comfortable with it," he said. "I have been running it since high school."

Added Shanahan: "He runs hard. He makes the right reads and he hits it. He can get low and run through people. He's always getting tackled with his shoulders falling forward, and that's what we need."

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