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Mike Shanahan ‘mum’ on opening day starter at Running Back

This preseason alone, the Redskins have seen four different running backs — including one that’s no longer on the roster in Tim Hightower — receive carries at some point during a game.

Many people thought Roy Helu would be the opening day starter, but he’s been sidelined and received limited practice reps thanks to a sore Achilles tendon. Evan Royster, who was listed as the team’s starting running back when the first depth chart came out for the 2012 season, has been limited in practices with a sore knee. Alfred Morris, the team’s 6th round pick, went from a player who many thought wouldn’t make the team’s opening day roster to a candidate for the starting running back job when the Redskins take on the New Orleans Saints next Sunday.

So, when the local media asked head coach Mike Shanahan if he knew which of these three running backs would be the starter for said matchup against New Orleans, his response was a simple “Uh-huh.” And when he was asked if he’d share that info, he responded: “No, no, no” and “All depends on who you think the starter is.”

So we’re back at square one, when it comes to predicting who the starting running back will be. Then again, does it really matter? Considering four different running backs — Hightower, Ryan Torain, Helu, and Royster — started for the Redskins last season, would it be much of a surprise if that happened again this year?

For now, my guess is that Alfred Morris will be the opening day starter, mostly because the other two guys remaining at running back (Helu and Royster) aren’t 100% yet; but, I still suspect they’ll be getting their share of carries against the Saints as well.

But one name to keep an eye on is Steve Slaton, formerly of the Miami Dolphins. It’s little secret that a trade sending Anthony Armstrong to Miami for Slaton almost took place; Armstrong ended up in Miami anyway after the Redskins waived him, and Slaton was recently waived by Miami as well. My suspicion is that Slaton, sooner rather than later, will end up on the Redskins roster as the 4th running back. Remember that Slaton has his best season in 2008 as a member of the Houston Texans, when he ran for 1282 yards and 9 TD’s, when Kyle Shanahan was the offensive coordinator there. The elder Shanahan has not been afraid of bringing aboard players that have connections to his son, and given the fact that both Shanahan’s have shown a propensity to utilize more than a couple of running backs as the season wears down, I think it’s just a matter of time before Slaton gets a shot here.

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