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Need to Know: The top five running backs the Redskins will face in 2016

Jun 22, 2016, 5:20 AM EDT

Peterson-vs-Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, June 22, 36 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 164 days ago. It will be 82 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Redskins training camp starts 36; Preseason opener @ Falcons 50; Final roster cut 73

Top five running backs the Redskins will face in 2016

Here are the top five running backs the Redskins will face in 2016 based on rushing yards gained last year.

Adrian Peterson, Vikings (1,485 yards)—I have to say that a year ago I was skeptical that could lead the league in rushing at age 30 after having sat out most of 2014 but I was wrong. I’m not sure he’ll repeat the feat this year but at 31 he still is likely to be a handful when the Redskins host the Vikings in Week 10.

Darren McFadden, Cowboys (1,089 yards)—Will it be McFadden, who suffered a fractured elbow earlier this month in an effort to keep his cell phone from hitting the floor after he dropped it? Or will the Redskins see more of rookie Ezekiel Elliott? Or perhaps old friend Alfred Morris? It will probably be some combination of the three. It won’t really matter; with that Cowboys O-line leading the way the Redskins’ defense had better tighten up their chin traps.

Jonathan Stewart, Panthers (989 yards)—Stewart is entering his ninth season but he’s only 29 and coming off of his second-best career rushing season. He won’t be the only rushing threat on the field; Cam Newton rolled for 636 yards last year.

DeAngelo Williams, Steelers (907)—Williams took over when Le’Veon Bell went out in Week 6 with multiple torn knee ligaments. Bell himself said that the knee is “very compromised” so he may take some time to get up to speed. Although few have Bell’s level of talent Williams is very capable and there is no reason for the Redskins to relax if Bell is out or limited in Week 1.

Rashad Jennings, Giants (863)—Jennings is a decent back but the fact that he’s on the top five here tells me that the Redskins are avoiding many of the league’s better ball carriers this year. He didn’t do much in two games against the Redskins last year, gaining 46 yards on 17 carries.

The Cardinals will be tough to defend on the ground with their trio of Chris Jonson (814 rushing yards), David Johnson (581), and Andre Ellington (289).

I can also see the Bengal’s two-pronged rushing attack with Jeremy Hill (794 yards) and Giovani Bernard (730) being tough for the Redskins to stop.

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In case you missed it 

  1. Trey Gregory - Jun 22, 2016 at 5:27 AM

    If David Johnson builds on his rookie season then he’s going to be an absolute handful to deal with. You have to say AP is the best RB they’ll face but Johnson could end up second. Assuming he gets carries.

  2. colorofmyskinz - Jun 22, 2016 at 5:59 AM

    Dallas running game will be fierce! Elliot and Morris will be enough to handle behind that line. If Dallas commits to the run, with the talent in the backfield they have, their passion game will come alive. Not looking forward to Dallas 2x.

    Our run defense better have improved this year with the glut of new talent on D. We have to get good at stuffing the run on first down. We were the worst in the NFL on stopping the run in first downs last year (and for many). If this defense responds to the positive changes, we should be good at pass rush, stuffing the run, and shutting the pass down. I think we could have a top 5 defense for sure.

    Kind of hard to believe we did nothing to fix our running situation. We have the same Left Gaurd, Center, and backs going into this year. Not liking our “improvement” story in his area. There have also been no real developments on the line at this 2 positions either.

    Will we get a late FA pick up? Will Long slide over? Will Arie come up? Will we really try to go another year with Kory? Do we really believe Lauvao will be healthy? Will Marshall be that deep round surprise? Will Jones get his head straight this year? So many questions to what already had enough questions at the end of last year. Unbelievable that nothing has resolved here.

    HTTR!

    • John - Jun 22, 2016 at 1:40 PM

      If Dallas leans on their running game, they will be tough, especially with Elliott in the fold and hes better than what they had. They demonstrated that back in 2014.

      Green Bay will be tough because if Rogers.

      Minnesota should be tough but Bridgewater is not scary.

      Cincy’s running game should be a challenge to go along with AJ Green.

      AZ will be tough because of their passing attack.

      Carolina: Can is the straw that stirs the drink.

      Browns with RG3 will be laughable.

      Most of the teams will be tough from a defensive standpoint. If the Skins can weather that storm, they’ll be good for the playoffs.

  3. garg8050 - Jun 22, 2016 at 6:42 AM

    Joe Barry will be under the gun this year. With the improvements in the secondary, there is no reason for this defense to not attack the line of scrimmage more often. Last season, they played such a vanilla defense, mostly to protect a banged up secondary, which I get. No excuses thus year, assuming the secondary is relatively healthy. We need our LBs to be attacking and going downhill. Should make a huge difference in our run defense.

    • John - Jun 22, 2016 at 3:34 PM

      Regardless what Barry does, the defense needs more pass rushers. The more they can apply pressure with just 4, the better. Last year with a beat up secondary, he did not have a lot to work with. In the past, when Hazlet was around, they’d blitz but not get to the QB. The level of talent has not changed that they will crush it if they blitz. Why should we expect dramaticly different results by blitzing more?

      • Trey Gregory - Jun 22, 2016 at 4:39 PM

        You don’t think we have more pass rushing talent than when Haz was coordinator? Or even last year? Is Junior Gallett a bum? Should we not expect Preston Smith to get a little better this year? We don’t have the very best group of outside linebackers in the league, but they’re up there. Kerrigan and Gallett together are like a dream. Baker was a very capable DE last year and Paea has been a good pass rusher in the past. We’re hoping he gets back to from now that he’s healthy and his second year in the defense.

        Our ILBs are nothing to write home about but there’s a lot of optimism about Comoton. Then we will have to see what we have in our rookies. Particularly Ioannidis and Cravens. They each rushed the passer in college, so there’s hope.

        I understand the middle of our defense is concerning. But we’re locked down in the edges all around. The secondary will help get coverage sacks and the monster OLBs will help free up the DEs and DTs. It’s not all doom and gloom.

        • John - Jun 22, 2016 at 10:18 PM

          It remains to be seen if this will all come into being. I’m not saying their all a bunch of bums but I am saying adding Reyes, Hood and Lionidis are not exactly upgrades. Murphy will not be a beast by any measure. As a general rule, this defense has not generated much pressure without blitzing. So without much change, how is it supposed to be all that much better?

        • Trey Gregory - Jun 22, 2016 at 11:11 PM

          Yeah I agree with that. A lot has yet to be seen. Many of us are optimistic about Ioannidis but he’s still a 5th round pick and a rookie. I’m not going to sing the praises of Reyes and Hood either. Im probably higher on Murphy’s potential than you but I’m not going to say he will make he interior better until I see it.

          However, Kerrigan and Gallette are known commodities. They’re not the very best set of bookends in the league but they’re up there. Preston Smith also appears to be well on his way to joining that company. We have a great top 3 OLB situation. So that’s not nothing. Haz never had 3 guys like this. Also, with the better defensive backfield the linebackers should be able to contribute more. I also think Cravens could be a surprise pass rusher.

          So with the possibility of coverage sacks, Baker, and our edge guys: I believe Barry has significantly more talent than Haz ever had. The OLine will have to focus on our edge rushers which will open things up in the middle. So we will see. Im not saying this is a top defense but I think they’re better than in 2012-2015

  4. redskins12thman - Jun 22, 2016 at 7:54 AM

    The Redskins ability to stop the run and apply pressure on the quarterback will be key in determining how well the team does; we need to see improvement compared to last season.

    Rushing attacks have as much to do with OL upgrades, as the RB corps, if not more so. With the Vikings having one of the best RBs in NFL history, they signed guard Alex Boone and right tackle Andre Smith this off season.

    It will be real tough for me to see Alfred Morris in a Cowboys uniform; I’ve avoided watching Dallas mini-camp footage for this reason.

    While you highlighted key opponents, the Packers, Bears, Browns and Eagles could be trouble too.

    There are some pundits who are already predicting Eddie Lacy will rush for over 1,000 yards this season for the Packers; that would rank him at least third on your list.

    While the Bears did lose Matt Forte, supposedly Jeremy Langford is ready to take on the lead RB role in Chicago. They ranked 5th in total rushing yards last season among Redskins’ 2016 opponents.

    With RJIII at the helm, the Browns may rely heavily on the duo of Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson this season.

    It’s unclear how Pederson will use Ryan Mathews, Darren Sproles, Kenjon Barner and Wendell Smallwood but the Chiefs always had a balanced attack.

    In terms of total rushing yards, here is last year’s ranking:

    1. Carolina (2)
    2. Minnesota (4)
    3. Arizona (8)
    4. Dallas (9)
    5. Chicago (11)
    6. Green Bay (12)
    7. Cincinnati (13)
    8. Philadelphia (14)
    9. Pittsburgh (16)
    10. Giants (19)
    11. Cleveland (22)
    12. Baltimore (26)
    13. Detroit (32)

  5. colorofmyskinz - Jun 22, 2016 at 7:56 AM

    Rich, thank you for getting us through the dog days of summer to training camp. 36 more days until we have active news on the development of our team. Can’t wait for more updates. Wish we had better injury updates. We got a good bit on Paul. Many others still foggy.

  6. goback2rfk - Jun 22, 2016 at 8:47 AM

    This topic is digging deep into the off-season meaningless department. Can’t wait for training camp to start. Although it looks like the roster is just about set and the starters are definitely mostly set on both sides of the ball. Lets just hope no one gets hurt.

  7. sidepull - Jun 22, 2016 at 12:29 PM

    Darren McFadden was putting a hurting on the Skins. I hope they get some payback this year.

  8. Doug butts - Jun 24, 2016 at 10:59 AM

    I am looking forward to bigger and better things this season. I hope that special teams play gets better. A short field on offense really helps you win

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