Don’t think that just because Tim Hightower has started the first four games and Washington is 3-1 that the cold-blooded Mike Shanahan feels an obligation to keep starting him, especially since the former Arizona Cardinal has an ailing shoulder.
Consider that Shanahan drafted Ryan Torain in Denver, brought him here last year and enjoyed his success (4.5 yards per carry) in 2010 only to make him a non-person for the first three games of 2011.
Hightower is averaging just 3.5 yards a carry, not even half the 7.1 that Torain churned out at St. Louis. If Hightower wasn’t Washington’s best pass-catching back and best pass blocker, he would probably be assuming Torain’s cheerleader role until the latter was injured or slacked off considerably.
Rookie Roy Helu, whose cutback style seems a great fit for Shanahan’s zone-blocking system, is averaging 5.3 per carry and figures to remain the changeup back when the starter needs a breather.
This situation is a tough one to gauge, thanks to Shanahan's history of changing his mind on a dime. Based purely on performance, the fragile Torain is more likely to see the bulk of the carries going forward, though Helu has earned a role as well. Hightower was limited on Wednesday with his shoulder injury even though the Redskins are coming off of a bye week. He's still the best receiver and pass blocker of this group, so we wouldn't be surprised if this situation does devolve into a three-headed monster.