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Anthony Alridge and the glut of RBs

When Anthony Alridge fumbled a kickoff return in the Washington Redskins’ preseason finale, Jacksonville Jaguars receiver Tiquan Underwood scooped up the ball and returned it for a touchdown. Underwood also took with him Alridge’s chances of making the Redskins’ 53-man roster.

Three weeks later, the Redskins are willing to look past that mistake and the fumbling problems that plagued Alridge throughout the preseason. The speedy running back returned to Redskins Park today after re-signing with Washington off the Houston Texans’ practice squad yesterday.

"It definitely feels good to get second opportunity to prove that you can play this game," Alridge said. "Just to make big plays out there on the field to help this team win, that’s what I’m trying to do."

Alridge (5-9, 175) fumbled away his golden opportunity to make the Redskins’ final roster this summer.

The Redskins liked his exceptional speed–he has run a 40-yard dash in 4.36 seconds–and his 4.6 yards-per-carry preseason average was the best among all running backs on the team. But Washington couldn’t trust him with the ball because he fumbled in both practices and games.

He believes that won’t be a problem going forward.

"I got my tennis ball," he said. "I throw my tennis ball up in the air and keep my eyes on the ball. Just stay focused. Fumbling the ball is just a lack of concentration. I’m concentrating on it."

The running backs’ position drills at practice this afternoon were a bit of an odd sight. With five running backs-Clinton Portis, Ladell Betts, Marcus Mason, Rock Cartwright and Alridge-out there in addition to fullback Mike Sellers, it looked like training camp before the roster was cut down.

Indeed, Zorn said carrying five tailbacks is a "unique" situation that will require some juggling.

"It’s hard to carry that group, but I think we’re doing it for the right reasons," he said. "We like the mix. It’s just hard to use them all. I just didn’t want to put another offensive lineman in the group. He would be playing down the road, but really [Alridge] could play right now."

In fact, there’s a good chance Alridge will be active for Sunday’s road game against the Detroit Lions because his speed provides a change of pace in the backfield that Betts and Marcus Mason do not. It would be his first NFL game.

Zorn said he is going to work Alridge out on special teams and offense during practice this week.

"I don’t need no rhythm," Alridge said. "I just want the ball. Just throw me in there and I’ll try to make some big plays and get it back to Clinton Portis and let him do his thing."

Portis, meanwhile, said he doesn’t have a problem with the addition of Alridge. He has maintained a positive outlook–publicly, at least–the last few weeks as Betts and Mason have taken playing time from him, and that continued today.

"They want somebody with speed that can turn the corner," Portis said. "If he goes out and does it and puts up seven points, I’m going to high-five him on the sideline like everybody else."