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Skins Backfield to Look a Lot Different in 2011

Mike Jones of the Washington Post says the Redskins backfield will clearly look different in 2011 as the team parted ways with veteran running back Clinton Portis in March and drafted rookies Roy Helu from Nebraska and Evan Royster from Penn State.

Ryan Torain led the team with 742 yards and four touchdowns, but he missed four games with a hamstring injury. There are concerns about his durability. In three seasons, he has yet to play a full 16 games.

Shanahan is high on both Helu and Royster and states they will both be in the mix for the starting job. Helu is a speedster capable of hitting a crease and taking off. Royster has a fluid running motion, and Shanahan said he found himself rewinding film over and over to figure out how the Northern Virginia product was able to amass so many yards with such ease. Shanahan compared Helu to a young Portis and Royster to Terrell Davis.

Keiland Williams took over the third-down back role after Portis was injured last year and had 65 carries for 261 yards and three touchdowns, and 39 catches for 309 yards and two touchdowns. He seems to be durable, and improved in pass protection as the season progressed. He could carve out a key role for himself if he can pick up blitzes consistently.

At fullback, Sellers will be 36, but remains a contributor as a run-blocker and special teams player, and occasionally as a receiver out of the backfield. Darrel Young could push him for playing time.

If the Redskins want to bring in a veteran running back, the free agent list isn’t impressive. Most available backs–players such as Brian Westbrook, Ricky Williams, Cedric Benson, Michael Bennett and Kevin Faulk — are past their primes.

The Redskins were interested in Westbrook as a third-down back last season, so another pursuit wouldn’t be out of the question, but if Williams continues to improve, Westbrook isn’t a pressing need.

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