Anthony Alridge returns to the Washington Redskins after a short stint with the Houston Texans practice squad. You may remember Alridge was with the Redskins this preseason appearing in two games after getting over a nagging foot injury.
He was impressive early rushing 9 times for 49 yards against the New England Patriots in the third week of preseason play. However, against the Jacksonville Jaguars he seemingly lost his roster spot with a kickoff fumble, a similar play that cost Marcus Mason a roster spot a season ago. Alridge did end up with 3 receptions for 34 yards in the game, showing his ability to be a dual threat from the backfield.
His speed and explosiveness is top notch after running a blistering 4.36 in the 40 yard dash at the 2008 NFL Combine with another 4.26 unofficially. The fumble on the kickoff return against the Jaguars should only be a minor concern as his knack for making big plays may be to much to overlook in using him as a return man.
But the problem doesn't lie with his fumbling mistakes. With his addition to the 53 man roster, there is now an unprecedented five running backs with Clinton Portis, Ladell Betts, Rock Cartwright, and Marcus Mason already in the mix. It is very unlikely for this to remain for the rest of the season.
Now Jason Reid, the Redskins Insider for the Washington Post has written an article hinting that the Alridge signing is bad news for Rock Cartwright. I however disagree.
All of our current running backs provide something that the others don't exactly posses, except one in my opinion...Ladell Betts.
Yes, Clinton Portis is essentially the all-around back, he can run it with quickness and power, his ability to pass block and catch out of the backfield is crucial.
Rock Cartwright is the special teams captain, his return game isn't explosive but reliable. His ability to block in special teams also makes him a keeper.
Marcus Mason has bulked up a bit making him the goaline back for the Redskins this season, something the Redskins obviously need.
And then there is Anthony Alridge, the proto-typical scat back. His ability to make the big play is something the Redskins could really use. You see guys like him all over the league now, Darren Sproles, Leon Washington, Chris Johnson, and Maurice Jones-Drew are just a few examples.
Then there is Ladell Betts, in my opinion just another running back. Yes his 2006 campaign was sensational, 1154 yards with a 4.7 yard average. But since that season he is averaging a mediocre 3.4 yard per carry average. Betts can be a viable option in catching out of the backfield, but nothing Portis, Alridge, or even Cartwright can't do.
That said I don't see why the Redskins don't shop Betts around. At the age of 30 is value is decreasing, but I'm sure there are teams out there that need a back like him. Teams like Houston, Cleveland, or Detroit could possibly use him. Maybe we could get a third to fourth round pick.
Whatever decision is made by the Redskins front office, all I hope it equates to is getting Anthony Alridge on the field. I have been waiting for a play-maker like him to get on the field and spell Clinton Portis and throw off the opposing defenses.