WASHINGTON —Free-agent running back Tim Hightower visited Redskins Park on Wednesday, according to an NFL source.
Hightower, 30, grew up in the Washington, D.C. area and played for the Redskins in 2011. He attended Episcopal High School in Alexandria and played college football at the University of Richmond. Hightower is expected to take multiple visits, according to the source, so a signing is not imminent. ESPN’s Mike Triplett first reported the visit.
Hightower would add some veteran competition to a running back group that for now includes third-year pro Matt Jones and second-year back Rob Kelley. Chris Thompson, the third-down back, is a restricted free agent, but expects to return to Washington in 2017. Mack Brown is also still under contract and will compete in training camp. Keith Marshall was a seventh-round draft pick last spring, but missed the entire season with an elbow injury sustained in training camp. He remains on the roster, too.
The Redskins had Hightower once before. He played five games here in 2011 before tearing the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his left knee. Years of complications from that surgery kept Hightower out of the sport. He finally made a remarkable return in 2015 with the New Orleans Saints.
The 6-foot, 220-pound Hightower played eight games with the Saints and then played all 16 in 2016. He had 133 carries for 548 yards and four touchdowns in a reserve role. Hightower averaged 4.1 yards per carry.
The Redskins’ interest in a veteran back is understandable. Jones lost the coaches’ confidence and wasn’t active for any game at all in November, December or January. Marshall showed little in training camp before being hurt.
Kelley, meanwhile, was a nice surprise as an undrafted college free agent and took over as a starter the second half of the season, but Washington wants a steady complement to him. Brown showed well in preseason and became a solid special-teams player appearing in nine games last year. But he was primarily a practice squad player in 2015 as an undrafted rookie and only attempted eight carries last season.
Thompson has excelled in his role and stayed healthy the past two seasons. He became a featured part of the offense in 2016 as runner (68 carries, 356 yards, three touchdowns) and receiver (49 catches, 349 yards, two touchdowns), but at 5-foot-8, 195 pounds he is less suited to gaining yards in the middle of the field.
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