Mike Shanahan and his son, Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, both say Hightower is perfectly suited to the team's zone blocking schemes, with the one-cut-and-head-up-field running style that typically prospered in the elder Shanahan's offense in Denver.
"He's a violent runner,'' Kyle Shanahan said. "He runs as hard as he can, gets to the line of scrimmage, and presses his cuts. And when he puts his foot down, it's violent, and he's getting downhill. He always gets tackled with his shoulders going north. He's exactly what we look for in this offense.''
Adds Mike Shanahan, whose Redskins run game ranked 30th in the NFL last season with a 91.3-yard average: "I've always liked his running style in the way he's strong and powerful. He's not afraid to turn up the field full speed, and he's one of the few guys, when he is going downfield and he breaks to the inside, he doesn't care who's inside. It could be a safety, it could be a linebacker. And most of those running backs, they shy away from those linebackers. He's fearless and he's got that type of mindset, so when he was available, I was very pleased.''
"On grass with us, I think he can be an every-down back,'' Kyle Shanahan said. "Because he's definitely a first- and second-down runner, and he also has good hands, and he's fearless when it comes to blocking. He understands our pass schemes and he's got a chance to be a guy who doesn't come off the field. It might take a while for him to make the transition to us, but it's always going to be a faster transition when you've got a guy who doesn't flinch. He's not scared to put his face into anyone, and he's smart and he works at it. I think he'll be able to do it.''
That is some high praise from the Shanahans -- it has to make Ryan Torain and Roy Helu sweat. Whoever wins the Redskins RB1 job is going to be at worst a RB3/flex starter, so keep an eye on Hightower's progress in camp. He's not going to set the world on fire, but he's a good all-around back and the coaching staff seems to love him.