ASHBURN, Va. -- Tim Hightower is set to play in his first game since reconstructive knee surgery, while two other running backs contending for the Washington Redskins starting job will sit out Saturday's preseason game against the Indianapolis Colts.
Coach Mike Shanahan said Thursday that, barring a setback, Hightower will get some plays against the Colts but not start.
Hightower tore his left ACL last season and has been gradually increasing his work load in practice. He said he's no longer hesitating or thinking about contact when he hits the hole.
"It's been a roller coaster," Hightower said. "You wake up each day, you don't know how you're going to feel. My mind is ready to practice and play and do everything, but you've just got to take it day to day. This morning I woke up and felt great, so that was definitely a good sign."
Hightower's return is timely because both Evan Royster and Roy Helu Jr. will miss the game with injuries. Helu woke up two days ago with a sore right knee and hasn't been able to practice. An MRI was negative.
"I guess they're just being cautious with it," Royster said. "I'd still like to play Saturday. It's nothing serious. I just woke up with a sore knee."
Helu, who has two sore Achilles, will miss his second straight game.
Shanahan said he's not concerned about having a trio of running backs not at 100 percent only two-plus weeks from the regular season opener. Next in line on the depth chart is sixth-round draft pick Alfred Morris, who started last week's game against the Chicago Bears and could get the nod again this week for the Redskins.
"I don't really worry about things I can't control," Shanahan said. "We're just going to get these guys back as quick as we can, get 'em healed up. Nothing is a season-ending injury. It's one or two games, we hope."