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2003 camp battles: Wholehearted fights at running back


jbooma

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I am only posting the redskins part so if you want to see the whole article here is the link. There were some interesting battles I didn't know.

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/fantasy/football/news/2003/07/17/back_page/

Washington Redskins: Trung Canidate and Chad Morton vs. Ladell Betts and Kenny Watson

One of the fastest running backs in the NFL and a former first-round draft choice, Canidate, acquired via offseason trade, will be given every opportunity to win the starting job this summer. The big question is whether Washington scored the Canidate who once gained 195 yards rushing and scored two touchdowns in a game against the New York Jets in 2000 or the guy who gained just 48 yards on 17 carries as the Rams' No. 3 man last season?

Based on early workouts -- in which Canidate failed to distinguish himself, especially early on, it's still not clear which player Washington landed.

Steve Spurrier obviously hopes Canidate will serve as the foundation of a re-worked rushing attack that will rely more heavily on speed and deception than power. The plan is to use smaller, quicker backs and get them into open areas by using draws, delays and a short passing game.

According to Spurrier, "We think he does have the speed to go the distance a little more than some of our other players."

The same can be said of Morton. Although he earned his NFL stripes as a special teamer, Morton's work out of the backfield was among the more surprising developments coming out of the team's initial mini-camp workouts.

In fact, his performance prompted Richmond Times staffer Paul Woody to write: "Whether he's the fastest man on the team is an open question. But there is little doubt that he is the quickest back in the team's stable of small and mid-sized runners. Morton is a natural at running the draw play and that, coupled with his ability as a receiver out of the backfield, puts Morton in strong contention for the job as third-down back."

If that's the case, Ladell Betts and Kenny Watson might find themselves competing for a single roster spot. Betts was the team's second-round draft pick of the current regime in 2002; Watson an undrafted rookie brought on board by Marty Schottenheimer.

Nonetheless, Watson reportedly has considerable front office support after emerging as the team's best short-yardage option after Stephen Davis was injured last year. Watson finished with 534 rushing yards, a 4.6-yard average and one touchdown, plus the third-most catches on the club (32).

That’s it all for now. Check back next week, when I’ll preview this summer’s most intense battles at wide receiver.

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Morton is 5'8 and 186, he is not going to be a primary option in the backfield. To think he would hold up for 16 games in a major role I think is a mistake.

Canidate as well has not shown the durability yet to figure that he is going to just come in and stake a claim to the job and never look back.

He will have to prove over 16 weeks that he is worth that consideration.

Which is why I don't see the Skins releasing either Watson or Betts in 2003.

Neither player makes much money and with the team perhaps able based on scheme to get by with just 2 players at the TE slot, I don't see waiving either player as being a net benefit to the club.

Waive Watson and allow him to go to Dallas or Philly and be at least a capable backup?

Just to keep Leonard Stephens on the team?

I don't think that is going to benefit the team long term, folks :)

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We have 4 guys who bring different skills to the table, but I have the most confidence in Betts or Watson.

I don't care if they are the easiest to cut (because of less salary commitment), they are the only two who have shown legit potential AND production at the NFL level from the RB spot. And keep in mind, these two guys, although the most productive and polished, are also the least experienced. Watson just started playing RB 2 season's ago. And Betts was a rookie.

Just because these guys are cheap, doesn't mean they should be expendable. Plus, they both play well on special teams. Does Candidate?

In my mind, Candidate is the wild card, and we can't depend on him at all. I'm glad we took the risk, it's worth the potential reward (perhaps another Ahman Green in the making ... very similar backgrounds). But until he proves himeself, he's the extra player and we are committed to keeping 4 RB's until we know what we have with him.

At this point, Morton is at best a 3rd down back in the Eric Metcalf/Dave Meggett role.

Watson & Betts are the only true, full-time, 2-3 down backs we have, so we have to keep them. And both play special teams.

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I don't care if [betts and Watson]are the easiest to cut (because of less salary commitment)

That's not true, though. First, we're not cutting Morton -- he's our return guy, whether he ever plays RB or not. Second, Watson, Betts and Canidate all have low salaries, very low for a starting RB, and irrelevantly different (and even if the difference were enough to matter, a lower salary would mean it would be slightly harder to cut someone b/c we'd get more bang for the buck by keeping him). Third, only Betts (and Morton, though he's not relevant b/c he won't be cut even if he's clearly our worst RB) has bonus dollars remaining (the Rams had to swallow Canidate's big signing bonus when they traded him to us), but those bonus $ are sunk costs that can't be changed and thus aren't relevant to deciding what to do in the future -- and even if someone were irrational and considered those as costs, it would be harder to cut Betts, not easier, b/c of those bonus $.

That said, I agree with you about Betts and Watson and am leery of Canidate (though we don't really have enough information to have an informed opinion about Canidate or Morton).

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I think all four will be kept with no particular role pegged for any of them except Morton. I like the fact that he can return all kicks and play the B. MItchell third down role.

I believe we'll start the season w/ two TEs, with the winner of the battle between Kevin Ware and Leonard Stephens going to the Practice squad. I'll admit to not knowing a thing about Ware, but Stephens impressed S2 with his willingness to learn and his size to speed ratio. Plus, he caught a TD or two last year didn't he?

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As a 3rd down back, being asked to mostly flare out of the backfield, run the occasional draw, and (here's the tricky part) pick up the occasional blitzing linebacker, I don't think Morton's diminutive size is necessarily a deal breaker.

He won't be asked to pound it between the tackles very often ... so I'm really not all that worried about his durability as a 3rd down back over 16 games. His blitz handling does raise some concern at that size, though ...

And I'm gonna say it again ... there is very little talk about Rock Cartwright as a 3rd down option. I continue to feel he is not only our best short-yardage option, but may also surprise everyone in preseason and find himself in the mix as a 3rd down option.

I see Ladell and Trung both getting 10-12 carries and 3 or 4 passes a game, with Rock winning the short-yardage nod and Kenny, Chad and Rock all vying for 3rd down opportunities.

Nutshell. :)

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