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Achilles Tendinitis May Keep Roy Helu Out Saturday At Chicago

By ZAC BOYER

zboyer@freelancestar.com | @ZacBoyer

(Originally posted 8/14/12, 12:42 p.m.; Updated 8/14/12, 8:11 p.m.)

ASHBURN – Roy Helu battled hamstring, groin, knee and toe injuries in his first year with the Washington Redskins. If there’s something that can go wrong with a leg, Helu has probably dealt with it.

Helu

Tendinitis in Helu’s left Achilles has now kept the running back out of practice on Monday and Tuesday, and it’s possible the Redskins’ leading rusher from a season ago could miss Saturday’s preseason game at Chicago.

“I wish circumstances were better, but I also know that this is just the hand I’m dealt and I have to do my best with getting fully healthy before I get out there, because I don’t want to carry things over to the next week,” Helu said. “Then we end up building things up when going into the season, [and] you don’t want to carry certain things, hindrances, physically into the season.”

Helu had 640 yards and two touchdowns last season, his first, though he has been working behind Evan Royster in practice. Because head coach Mike Shanahan wants a period of time to evaluate all of the running backs on his roster, Helu is scheduled to serve as the Redskins’ featured back on Saturday and work with the starters.

“Hopefully he’ll be back by Saturday, but if he’s not, then you know, it will be me and Alfred [Morris] possibly splitting the first time and guys playing from there,” Royster said.

Helu’s injury could further muddy an already difficult situation at the position. After Helu’s breakout year, a pair of 100-yard games from Royster to finish the season and the return of Tim Hightower from a torn ACL in his left knee, the Redskins will enter the season with three capable running backs.

Morris, a rookie chosen in the sixth round out of Florida Atlantic, will also push for a role, and Tristan Davis, entering his second year with the Redskins after spending the second half of 2011 on the practice squad, wants a chance as well.

“We’ve got a lot of good competition at running back, man,” Hightower said. “Any time you’ve got competition on your team, it’s going to make your team better, so I think they did a great job – especially Alfred coming in his first game. He did an excellent job.”

The Redskins’ top four backs all run in different styles. Helu is better in open space, a stretch-and-go type of runner. Royster runs the inside zone better and can gain yards after contact. Hightower is a hard hitter and offers the best pass protection, while Morris has shown much more of a physical, downhill style.

“The best players are going to play, and who they are right now I’m not really sure,” Shanahan said. “But it is a very competitive situation, and hopefully in the next three games, we’ll have a better indication of who should be the guy.”

How the Redskins manage the backs won’t be difficult, though, if one or more of them are not healthy. Hightower won’t return to team drills until Friday, Shanahan projects, and may not be back until the third or fourth preseason game.

Helu said he has had tendinitis before, but this time it came “out of nowhere” and it is more severe than in the past. He doesn’t know how he’s been bothered by so many different leg injuries, and as simple as it may seem, he has considered Shanahan’s suggestion of additional stretching before and after practice.

“I’m also not that well-versed in how muscles work,” Helu said. “I know for certain reasons, something happens because of something in the hips, et cetera, but there’s nothing that I’ve pinpointed yet.”

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