Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
The return of Roy Helu Jr. adds a new element to the ground game.
The return of Roy Helu Jr. and the emergence of rookie Chris Thompson gives the Redskins more speed in the running game. Adding that extra element to an already prolific ground attack should scare the rest of the league.
Head coach Mike Shanahan's zone-based system has made the Redskins the best rushing team in football. They are capable of wearing down any defense with consistent stretch runs attacking various cutback lanes.
In 2012, it was the power and patience of workhorse Alfred Morris that battered opponents into submission. The only thing missing was a true breakaway threat, the kind of field-stretching speed needed to turn a seven-yard gain into a 50-yarder.
That will change with Helu back in the fold. The third-year pro has the acceleration to take a stretch run to the sideline and outrun defenses on the edge.
Despite missing most of the 2012 season, Helu looked rust free during exhibition games. He averaged 5.8 yards per carry through three outings and seems to have lost none of his sudden burst.
Speaking of a little burst, that is just what pint-sized speedster Thompson can provide. The fifth-rounder from FSU is the classic diminutive scatback, ideally suited to read-option looks.
At 5'7" and 187 pounds, Thompson has already shown that he can squirt under and accelerate away from defenders. His return skills also showcased his incredible talent in the open field.
If this zone scheme can spring Thompson free from the first wave of defenders, he will produce some huge plays in the running game.
With Morris and Evan Royster to work inside and Thompson and Helu attacking the edges, the Redskins now have the most versatile ground attack in the NFL.