Shanahan Unsure If Helu, Hightower Will Be Ready For Opener

Shanahan: 'I really don't know' if Helu, Hightower will be ready for opener

8/22/12 in NFL   |   Matthew_Shovlin   |   735 respect

Oct. 23, 2011; Charlotte, NC, USA; Washington Redskins running back Tim Hightower (25)while playing against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sam Sharpe-US PRESSWIREWhen asked about the availability of running backs Roy Helu (Achilles' tendinitis) and Tim Hightower (ACL surgery) for Week 1, Washington Redskins' head coach Mike Shanahan said "I really don't know yet."

Hightower was expected by the Washington media to be the Week 1 starter, but it seems that he is taking longer than expected to recover from his knee surgery. Helu, on the other hand, looked like a promising young back, piling up 640 yards and 49 catches as a rookie last season. However, he's been dealing with soreness in both of his heels.

The probable Week 1 starter for the Redskins is Evan Royster, who got first-team reps with the Redskins even with Helu active. Royster could be a sneaky fantasy pick, as he played very well last season with limited opportunities. Though he got only 56 carries last season, he ripped off an impressive 5.9 yards per tote. Now atop the depth chart in Washington, the former Nittany Lion will have every opportunity to prove that he deserves to be the bell cow. Of course, as soon as he looks to be a stud, the abstract-minded Shanahan will probably sit him down and let some no-name rack up 20 carries. Regardless, he's worth a fantasy draft pick as a flier.

The two injured runners don't make much of a difference from a team perspective in Washington, as neither one is that great of a player. Helu has proven to be an asset in the passing game, but not so much that he could make or break the Redskins' season. Royster is, at worst, not far behind the skill level of previously projected starter Tim Hightower, and he'll be a fine replacement option for Shanahan and the Skins.
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