The Washington Redskins are weathering their early trades well and are fresh off an impressive 16-3 week 2 pre-season win over the Indianapolis Colts. Letting go of Quarterback Donovan McNabb and Defensive Tackle Albert Haynesworth before the start of the preseason proved the team was ready to rebuild this year. Their strategy is obviously paying off with Washington leading the league in total yards so far and ranking second in rushing yards through week two. The team is averaging more than 430 offensive yards per game and nearly 180 rushing yards.

Signing Rookie Running Back Troy Helu to a four year deal turned out to be instrumental to the Redskin backfield after Ryan Torain suffered a broken hand in practice. Helu, a Nebraska standout, raised some eyebrows in week two by racking up 101 yards on 14 carries, giving him a 7.2 yard average per touch. Helu's per-carry output in his second week of work for the Redskins more than doubled his week one effort against the Pittsburgh Steelers (28 yards on 8 carries). Helu also proved to be a productive receiver in week two, catching 4 passes for 23 yards.

Torain is already back at practice with four screws in his hand, but with such potent replacements waiting in the wings it's likely the team will be extremely cautious as far as his timetable for returning as a full time starter.

The Redskins picked up Tim Hightower at the end of July in exchange for Defensive End Vonnie Holiday and a 6th round draft pick in 2012. Hightower helped the Arizona Cardinals get to their first Super Bowl in franchise history (Super Bowl XLIII) when he scored the game-winning touchdown in the 2008 NFC Championship game. The Redskins haven't been to the Super Bowl since 1991 when they beat the Buffalo Bills 37-24, so they're hoping Hightower can help them get back to the big game, too. Hightower proved how capable he can be by averaging 11.7 yards a carry against the Colts in week two of this year's pre-season. He romped for 70 yards on just 6 carries in the game, including a 58-yard play and a touchdown. This season will be Hightower's 4th in the NFL, and so far in his career he's averaged just short of 4 yards per carry and a total of 1,733 yards.

Torain is coming off a season in which he ran for 742 yards on 164 carries in only 10 games. Drafted in the fifth round by the Broncos in 2008, Redskins coach Mike Shanahan (who coached the Broncos back then) obviously likes working with Torain. That kind of relationship with the coach combined with his natural ability means Torain is likely to be put right back in the mix once he's completely healthy.

If the first two pre-season games are any reflection of how prepared the Redskins are for the regular season, their rushing game is right on target. Through two weeks their backs are averaging 5.1 yards per rush on 69 total runs from scrimmage. The Redskins also have 49 total first downs compared to just 20 first downs for their opposition so far. The only concern they have is their low offensive scoring output. They scored an identical 16 points in each of their first two pre-season games. Their defense has so far been able to make sure that was enough to notch two quick wins, but the regular season is sure to require more frequent touchdowns.

The real games are fast approaching, and the team's running game is likely to face a much more daunting challenge when the final score really matters. Still, the pre-season is more important this year than it has been in the NFL for a long time. Many teams are still struggling with how to handle so many new faces in such a short time span before the season officially kicks off. The Redskins seem to have that figured out. Their bold, early moves might have seemed puzzling to some experts, but they definitely appear poised to prove their doubters wrong and make a serious playoff run this season.


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