Roy Helu set to take Redskins' running back job


Training camp is finally almost here. They allow tackling there and everything. Around the League will count down the top 30 position battles to watch throughout the preseason.

No. 22 Washington Redskins running back: Tim Hightower vs. Roy Helu vs. Evan Royster

Top 30 training camp position battles

No. 30: Seahawks running backs
No. 29: Packers No. 3 receiver
No. 28: Broncos backup running back
No. 27: Bengals cornerbacks
No. 26: Raiders backup quarterback
No. 25: Cardinals receiver
No. 24: Jets right tackle
No. 23: Jets linebacker
No. 22: Redskins running back
No. 21: Giants No. 3 receiver
No. 20: Patriots receiver
No. 19: Colts tight end
No. 18: Rams receivers
No. 17: Jaguars quarterbacks
No. 16: Bears wide receivers
No. 15: NFL safety battles
No. 14: Jaguars No. 2 receiver
No. 13: Bears left tackle
No. 12: Randy Moss vs. Father time
No. 11: Lions receivers
No. 10: Cardinals running back
No. 9: Ravens pass rusher
No. 8: Dolphins quarterback
No. 7: Buccaneers running back
No. 6: Steelers defensive end
No. 5: Dolphins wide receiver
No. 4: Cardinals quarterback
No. 3: The Oakland Raiders
No. 2: Titans quarterback
No. 1: Seahawks quarterback

• Mike Shanahan brought back the exact same running back group this year despite Hightower coming off a torn anterior cruciate ligament. This is a surprise until you realize this group performed pretty well last season despite an ever-changing offensive line.

• The Washington Times wrote this week that Hightower was the favorite for the gig, which is a bit of a surprise coming off a serious injury. Hightower is good at every facet of the position, but not great at any. His questionable explosiveness figures to be worse after surgery.

• Helu looked dynamic at times last year, but wore down late in the season. Still, 1,019 yards from scrimmage with 49 receptions isn't shabby for a rookie. He had three straight 100-yard games at one point and has the highest upside of the group.

• Royster should not be overlooked. He finished the season with two big games, and ran with more power than Helu. We went back to watch every Royster snap and he was unremarkable despite impressive numbers. Ask three Redskins observers about the roles of these three players and you'll get three different answers. It wouldn't shock us if Shanahan added a player to the group in camp.

• The safest bet among this group is that the Week 1 starter will not be the Week 10 starter. Mike Shanahan is sure to drive fantasy owners crazy by rotating the league back.

Projected winner: Helu, because it's unrealistic to ask Hightower to carry a big load early.