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McNabb: Redskins' backfield is not a crowd

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Posted June 10, 2010 @ 10:20 a.m. ET
By Eric Edholm

As far as Donovan McNabb is concerned, the more the merrier. McNabb spoke with PFW this week in a wide-ranging interview about many topics, but he had some interesting observations about the offensive backfield in Washington.

The Redskins have appeared to try to turn back the clock to 2006, signing RBs Larry Johnson and Willie Parker to join Clinton Portis in one of the NFL's more interesting trios at any position. Although their name value is off the charts, all three have fallen on hard times in recent seasons, victims of overuse and age.

"The three guys that we have here, the big names — obviously, Larry, Clinton and Willie — these guys all present different features to the running game," McNabb explained. "Larry is a hard-nosed, downhill runner who can pick up big yards. Clinton, he kind of has every aspect of it. And then Willie is one of those breakout kind of guys; he hits the crease, and a 10- or 12-yard play turns into 60 or 65 (yards).

"You want to be able to take pressure off of all those guys so that you are not burning a guy out by Week Nine or Week 10. Obviously we are not getting any younger."

When you consider that the Redskins also have offered a contract to former Eagles RB Brian Westbrook, another former star back coming off a subpar season, the situation could get even more interesting.

McNabb said he is not sure what Westbrook will do. The free-agent back and former teammate of McNabb's in Philadelphia is in the midst of a free-agent tour. He has not accepted the Redskins' offer yet, but he hasn't turned it down, either.

"Well, I don't know about the whole Brian situation," McNabb said. "I just hope for nothing but the best for Brian. I played with him for years. I think if he came here, we would have a good communication and an awareness of each other."

But no matter who ends up in the backfield when the dust settles, McNabb expects big things from the run game.

"I think (two) guys can have about 150 carries and the other guy has maybe 75 carries," he said. "Now you're talking about possibly for about 2,000 or 2,500 (rushing) yards and then hopefully passing it for somewhere near 3,500 to 4,500 yards, and you're talking about a successful season right there."

Do the rough math, and McNabb thinks the Redskins can gain anywhere from 5,500 to 7,000 total yards this season. The Redskins totaled exactly 5,000 yards in 2009, Jim Zorn's final season. The Eagles tallied 5,726 under McNabb last season.

The low end of McNabb's estimations is reasonable, as the league average per team last season was 5,362.2 yards gained. On the high end, his numbers are close to record levels. The Saints combined for a league-best 6,461 total yards last season, and the NFL record is the 7,075 the Rams put up in 2000.

On top of the questions at running back, there also is the matter of the offensive line. The Redskins likely will have at least two new starters, including rookie OLT Trent Williams — and three if you count converted ORT Mike Williams, who is being tried at right guard.


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