Redskins’ rusher Torain injured, Hightower ready

Newly acquired Washington Redskins running back Tim Hightower

can’t find the way to the locker room, training room or

cafeteria.

But to the Redskins, it’s more important that he find his way

through holes in the line – especially with a recent injury to Ryan

Torain, last year’s leading rusher.

Torain will miss 7-10 days after fracturing his left hand while

being tackled Wednesday. He needed four screws in his third

metacarpal, and although Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said Torain

came to his office earlier in the day, Torain wasn’t on the field

for either of the team’s practices Thursday.

Hightower, who was acquired by the Redskins in a trade from the

Arizona Cardinals for Vonnie Holliday and a draft pick, practiced

Thursday for the first time during training camp.

Because the Collective Bargaining Agreement hadn’t yet been

ratified, newly signed free agents couldn’t practice previously. So

Hightower and 15 of his teammates, including quarterback Rex

Grossman, began the Redskins’ 4 p.m. practice loosening up by

themselves on a separate field before standing near their position

groups.

Shortly before 5 p.m., they joined the rest of the team, which

was participating in an 11-on-11 drill.

”I felt like a reject, like I was one of the replacements or

something,” Hightower said of the strange start to the afternoon

session. ”It was a crazy feeling.”

Hightower wasted no time releasing that bottled-up energy,

making an explosive cut through the left side on his first carry.

For the Redskins to stay on track during Torain’s absence,

Hightower likely will have to take an expanded role. The team opens

their preseason schedule Aug. 12 against the Pittsburgh

Steelers.

”Anybody who knows me, I hate coming off the football field,”

said Hightower. ”I don’t care whether it’s third down, first down,

short yardage, blocking catching – I hate coming off the football

field. If I’ve got to carry it 30 times a game, I want to help my

team win.”

Hightower said the lockout prevented him from fully taking

advantage of his physical skills.

”You can be in the best shape of your life, but the only way to

get better at football is to play football,” said Hightower, who’s

run for 1,733 yards and 23 touchdowns and has caught 118 passes for

801 yards in three seasons.

Torain, whom Shanahan drafted with the Broncos in 2008, broke

his left elbow in his first training camp and tore the ACL in his

left knee during his rookie season. After another knee injury

during training camp the next year, Denver cut him, and Torain

admitted he had been labeled as injury prone.

”Ryan has the ability to be a top back and we’ll find out in

time if he can do that and stay healthy,” Shanahan said early last

season.

After setting career-high rushing totals in back-to-back weeks

— 100 yards against the Colts on Oct. 17 and 125 yards against the

Bears on Oct. 24 – Torain injured his hamstring against the Lions

in Week 8 and missed the next four games.

Even before Torain’s latest injury, Hightower said the trade

happened for a reason.

”I couldn’t have asked for any better opportunity in any better

place,” said the 25-year-old Hightower, who attended high school

in Alexandria, Va., and college at Richmond.

Even without Torain in the mix, Hightower will have competition

for carries. Washington drafted Nebraska running back Roy Helu in

the fourth round and Penn State running back Evan Royster in the

sixth round.

The Redskins’ other veteran running backs are Keiland Williams –

who ran for 261 yards on 65 carries and caught 39 passes for 309

yards as a Washington rookie last season – and James Davis, who ran

19 times for 60 yards with the Redskins and Cleveland Browns last

year. Undrafted rookies Shaun Draughn (North Carolina) and Kevin

Gidrey (South Florida) also are on the roster.

Hightower sees talent in his position-mates, but until the

Redskins practice in full pads, he said he couldn’t make a complete

evaluation.

”They work hard, and they seem like they get along really well.

So, I’m excited to work with them,” he said.

Notes: QB Rex Grossman, who started Washington’s final three

games last season, practiced for the first time during training

camp. He figures to compete for the starting job with John Beck,

who’s been practicing since camp began. Shanahan was asked about

Kellen Clemens, who also practiced for the first time Thursday and

will likely become the team’s third quarterback. ”Starter,”

Shanahan said, drawing laughs while he walked from the podium

toward the Redskins’ practice facility. . The Redskins re-signed S

Reed Doughty. ”He’s a student of the game,” Shanahan said. ”When

he plays, he’s very accountable. He’s the type of guy you have to

have to win championships. And I like everything about him, and

he’s going to help us this year.” . Washington also re-signed ILB

Rocky McIntosh, who started 15 games last season. ”He’s got a

chance to compete, and that’s all we can ask,” Shanahan said.

Perry Riley, a 2010 fourth-round pick, had been lining up next to

fellow ILB London Fletcher. … CB Kevin Barnes changed his number

to 22 from 25.