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BLOG: Fighting to lead the Redskins' running game

Tuesday - 7/31/2012, 6:38am  ET

AP: a3fe1e93-5dba-4504-bf08-2a8b69788814
Washington Redskins running back Tim Hightower warms up during the team's NFL football training camp practice at Redskins Park on Monday, July 30, 2012 in Ashburn, Va. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
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George Wallace, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - Believe it or not, there will be Redskins storylines not centered around Robert Griffin III.

I know, it doesn't seem like it, but trust me -- there will be.

How about the guys playing behind RGIII? If the Redskins can't get their running game going, then it could be a long year for the rookie quarterback. The team finished 25th last season in rushing.

Tim Hightower went down with a torn ACL in Week 7 against Carolina. That paved the way for rookies Roy Helu and Evan Royster, who stepped in and each had multiple 100-yard games down the stretch.

Hightower re-signed with the Redskins and is in camp preparing himself to once again be the top back. He is still recovering from knee surgery and not yet at full speed. He has stated since day one of practice that if he isn't 110 percent, then he won't be out there.

So how does the knee feel after three days?

"I'm just getting better each day. I didn't digress at all, I don't think there's any area of concern. There's no setbacks, I'm still on track and I'll still be out there game one," Hightower says.

The tough part for him has been having to watch rather than play.

"That's something I'm learning daily, especially when you have a whole offseason to think about this and to let that passion build," Hightower says. "Then you get here and you're still watching even more. It's a tough process, but it's one I know is going to pay off in the end."

I find it hard to believe that if he's healthy, Hightower won't be the No. 1 back when the team takes the field in New Orleans.

The key is how the coaches will bring him along this preseason and make sure that there are no setbacks. Does that mean limited playing time during the preseason?

One thing is for sure: Hightower wants to play next week in Buffalo.

"I always want to play. Any time I get an opportunity to play football, I want to play," he says. "I look at it as Buffalo and a chance for me to get better. It's a job interview for me -- something to put on my resume and ultimately help me build that chemistry that this team needs."

And he knows, as all players do, the importance of the training.

"We need this preseason. We need every single practice and every single game and they need me out there. If I'm able to go then I'll be out there, if I'm not, I won't," he says.

Head coach Mike Shanahan has made it clear that he doesn't know right now who will be the tailback. He knows he has three guys he has confidence in and now it's a matter of Hightower recovering to a point where he can reclaim the starting spot, or one of the two second-year guys (Helu and Royster) separating themselves from the pack and proving they can carry the load.

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