The Washington Redskins handed the St. Louis Rams a 17-10 loss last Sunday, and also perhaps lost in the game, was Tim Hightower's stranglehold on the number one running back position. Ryan Torain made his return to the Redskins line-up, and after a 135 yard performance, he might not be sitting down again for a while.
It didn't take long to see that Torain was hungry. He tore off seven yards on his first carry, and came back to the huddle barking and fired up. To Kyle Shanahan's credit, he immediately dialed up Torain's number again, and this time he ripped off a 20-yard touchdown run.
The fire in the young running back's eyes was obvious. He was fired up to be back, and to be contributing.
"It was a very emotional game for me. I've been working hard (in practice) and I finally got an opportunity to show it. Every single game they're always telling me, 'Be ready, stay focused, keep working hard', and I finally got the opportunity to get out there and make some plays."
Torain was sidelined in the pre-season with a hand/wrist injury, and both Hightower and Roy Helu played so well, that Torain was basically reduced to an inactive role. When Hightower struggled with just 24 yards on 8 carries, and looked to have injured his shoulder, Mike Shanahan finally gave Torain a chance to run the ball.
Shanahan said, "He (Hightower) hurt a shoulder on the third or fourth play of the game. We decided very quickly that we would put Ryan in."
Many experts and arm-chair quarterbacks alike, postulated that the Redskins recipe for success against the Rams was simple - establish the run - stop the run.
The Washington defense certainly held up their end of the bargain, stymying Rams running back Steven Jackson to just 45 yards rushing, on 17 carries. Jackson is the motor in the Rams offense, and he has hurt the Redskins in the past, but not this time. He only had three carries in the second half, and gained just three yards.
As for the Redskins' ground attack, it's doubtful that even the most astute of observers would have predicted that their running game would hinge off of Torain's performance, but it did. In the second half, Torain and the offensive line took over and smash-mouthed their way to a third victory.
The Eagles have the 30th ranked rush defense in the NFL; the Redskins WILL be running the ball a lot this week. Will it be Torain, Hightower or Helu? Chances are, it will be all of them at some point, but expect to see Torain back in the number one slot.
He earned that opportunity against the Rams, and now it's his job to lose. Get ready for another ride on the Love Torain.