By Tarik El-Bashir
A day after cutting Tim Hightower, Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan said the decision was a difficult one and that the veteran running back could return at a later date if he’s healthy.
Hightower was attempting to return from 10-month layoff due to ACL surgery on his left knee. But the 26-year-old appeared in only one preseason game, racking up 28 yards on five carries against the Colts. After that game, Hightower was sore and did not suit up for the preseason finale against the Buccaneers.
“A guy like Tim, I think the world of,” Shanahan said Saturday. “He might be back sometime this year. But you have cut down. You have make the decision that’s best for your football team and we went three running backs and a fullback. But it was a tough decision.”
With Hightower gone, the tailback duties will fall to second year players Evan Royster and Roy Helu Jr. and rookie Alfred Morris.
Pressed on whether Hightower could return to Washington, Shanahan said, “He could come back here. I thought when he did play, he played well. …That one run he had off the left side [against the Colts], that was pretty impressive.”
For Hightower to return, however, another Redskins’ running back probably would have to get hurt and, of course, Hightower would have to return to full health. It was apparent this week that Hightower still had some progress to make.
“He was a little sore,” Shanahan said when asked if Hightower had suffered a setback against Indianapolis.
Asked if Hightower’s release was because of his knee or the emergence of Morris and the other two running backs, Shanahan said: “You’ve got to take the top 53 guys. And when you put all the factors together, you’ve got to way, ‘Hey, what’s best for us this year?’ And that’s what we thought was best for us.”