Alfred Morris is the early favorite to be the Redskins’ leading rusher but he might not want to be. In recent years the status of being the Redskins’ top ground gainer has rivaled the Sports Illustrated or Madden covers in terms of being bad luck.
The news that Roy Helu Jr., who led the team with 640 yards on the ground in 2011, has been placed on the injured reserve list means that the Redskins will have a new leading rusher for the fourth year in a row.
Clinton Portis led the team in rushing for three straight seasons, from 2007 through 2009.
In 2010 Portis had a groin injury that limited him to five games. Ryan Torain, a Mike Shanahan reclamation project from Denver, ran for 742 yards to pace the Redskins’ running attack.
But Torain fell out of favor with the coaching staff due to his inability to stay healthy. That prompted them to trade for Tim Hightower just after the 2011 lockout ended. Last year Torain played in nine games, starting four, and rushed for 200 yards on 59 carries. He was released shortly before the end of the season.
Even leading the team in rushing for even a partial season has proven to be bad luck. Last year, Hightower had a team-best 321 yards on the ground when he suffered a torn ACL in the sixth game of the season. That opened the door for Helu to take the team rushing title.
For most of their history the Redskins have had pretty good stability at running back. Only once before have the Redskins had four different leading rushers in four years. From 1992-1995 the season leaders were Earnest Byner, Reggie Brooks, Ricky Ervins, and Terry Allen.