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Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Anatomy of a Redskins touchdown

By Dan Graziano
ESPN.com

Really enjoyed this story by Rich Campbell in the Washington Times, breaking down Tim Hightower's 37-yard touchdown run from last week's preseason game against the Ravens. I love stories like this, that get inside the play and tell what went on from the perspectives of the different players who made it work. The Redskins' zone-blocking scheme depends on the linemen and the running backs working together and communicating effectively -- if everyone does his individual assignment well, it looks like a thing of beauty. That appears to be what happened on this run:
"A lot of those plays, if the front side is not there, we're counting on the back side being open as much as the front side," left guard Kory Lichtensteiger said. "Everybody down the line knows that it could be their block on any play that springs him."

What's really exciting for the Redskins and coach Mike Shanahan is the seamless way Hightower has embraced and fit into the zone-blocking system. Yes, he has plenty of motivation to do so, because he surely knows Shanahan's track record of making running backs into stars. But when the Redskins got Hightower in a trade with Arizona at the start of training camp, Shanahan was excited by the multiple ways he thought Hightower could help -- as a pass-blocker, receiver and runner. So far, so good on that with Hightower, who begins the season as the starting running back and should hold the job as long as his old fumble problems don't flare up.

So much focus has been on the quarterback situation for the Redskins, but when I was in their camp early this month, they seemed more concerned about their ability to put a strong supporting cast around John Beck or Rex Grossman than how either would himself play. With less than two weeks left before the start of the season, the Redskins are feeling better about their running game and their line than they did a month ago.