Redskins could have tough call between Samaje Perine, Rob Kelley

Samaje Perine rushed for 613 yards as a rookie last season. AP Photo/Alex Brandon

RICHMOND, Va. -- The Washington Redskins' most interesting camp battles are among the backups. Spots at running back and on the defensive line are the most intriguing.

John Keim: Funny -- a year ago, those two were fighting it out to be the starter. But, yeah, it would be hard to keep two backup power runners after drafting a similar player in Derrius Guice.

It’s too early to say right now, because we need to see how they play first. Would a year of experience make a difference for Samaje Perine? It should, but to what extent? Rob Kelley was running better, but kept getting hurt last season.

They’d only get a low-round pick in return in a trade, likely a conditional one (or maybe a player). Keep in mind that once the Redskins start calling around on guys, teams know they’re going to cut someone they could later get for free, as one front-office member of another team said. If it’s a guy that another team will like, they’ll make a move.

But they can still get teams to make a deal. Last summer, the Redskins had to make a decision between tight end Derek Carrier and Niles Paul, and teams knew this. They knew one would be cut if not traded. But they managed to get a seventh-round pick from the Los Angeles Rams for Carrier. The key: He went to a coach (Sean McVay) who knew him well. They had acquired Carrier three years ago in a training-camp trade.

It’s hard to get any clues as to what might transpire. I do know how much they’ve always liked Kelley and he worked as the No. 1 back during the spring. Redskins coach Jay Gruden was high on him all last offseason. But they drafted Perine. In camp, they are rotating the backs. But let’s be honest: Guice will be the man. Chris Thompson already talks about wanting to see Guice gain 1,200 yards.

It was interesting to hear Gruden talk about the running backs and how he’d like to have a backup for Thompson on the roster.

“Without a doubt, without a doubt,” Gruden said. “The good thing is Kapri Bibbs is very good out of the backfield and Byron Marshall has shown things that he could be a very explosive player for this football team, out of the backfield and running the football between the tackles and outside. So, I think we have that spot covered.”

If they keep Bibbs or Marshall, then unless they’re willing to carry five running backs, they’ll need to move Kelley or Perine. A fourth running back would likely be inactive on game days anyway.

It will be one of the interesting subplots to watch this summer. The good news for Washington is that they have Guice and Thompson in the main roles. The Redskins are in good shape at running back.

Keim: Taylor was on pace to start last season until his quad injury, ending what had been a terrific training-camp story. But the problem is this: He hasn’t played in a regular-season game since 2014 and the Redskins drafted two guys who also can play nose tackle in Daron Payne and Tim Settle.

So let’s say the Redskins keep seven defensive linemen. Assuming all are healthy, here are the likely seven: Payne, Settle, Jonathan Allen, Matt Ioannidis, Ziggy Hood, Stacy McGee and Anthony Lanier. Now, Lanier still must prove he can help against the run, but he also is a talented athlete with excellent size. He threw some guys around in one-on-ones Friday (most were fringe roster types, but Lanier did what he should). Where does Taylor fit in that picture? I know Hood gets knocked, but let’s be clear: His problems were at a position (nose tackle) where the organization couldn’t find anyone else. He’s a natural at end.

However, the opening for Taylor would be McGee’s injury. Gruden said Friday that McGee’s recovery from his core muscle surgery might linger into the season.

“There is a chance, for sure,” Gruden said. “He’s doing a great job at working to get back into shape, but a big body like that, it might take a little bit more time, but I can’t say cause Stacy has had a couple injuries in the past and done a great job of rehabbing and he looks in good spirits and good shape already. But that’s just a time-will-tell kind of thing and depending on where we are on the roster."

They have the depth to withstand McGee’s absence thanks to Taylor. And there is usually an injury somewhere along the way. That would be Taylor’s opening, provided he shows he can play.