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
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
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
”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
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
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
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
”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.