Tim Hightower has always been a winner. With matured success at the University of Richmond, Hightower set school records across the board, achieving 1,920 yards and 20 touchdowns in his senior year as a running back with the Spiders. During that stint, he carried the ball 327 times with an average of more than five yards per carry. Now granted, the Spiders are nothing much to look at if they were to ever be matched up against NCAA champions like Oregon or the University of Florida, but Hightower was skilled enough to draw attention.
In 2008, he was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals and helped the team walk directly into the Super Bowl while he was just a rookie. But it wasn’t long before his career was riddled with injuries and sub-par expectations. Some have even called him a second tier running back with limited speed in the open field, even when he’s not injured. But just five games into the 2011 season where he was playing as a Washington Redskin, Hightower went down hard with a torn ACL, which has kept him in a slow state of recovery for nearly six months. Now, with a pressure-mounted offseason and plenty of expectations on the Skins to succeed, Hightower is anxious to get back on the field and prove his metal.
Speaking with optimism, he said these words last week:
“We’re going to try to build on what we did last year. We’ve got the same guys, and we’re just going to compete and push each other,” Hightower said. “I don’t think there needs to be much talk right now. We’ve got a lot to prove between all three of us [Roy Helu and Evan Royster], and that’s what we’re going to do.”
In other words, the conversation is mostly about what the team did when he wasn’t a part of it and how he will work with the tandem of Helu and Royster to make Washington a champion again. Coach Mike Shanahan, also a proven winner from Denver, continues to suggest that Hightower is on a day by day evaluation. There’s no reason to rush him back into the game, Shanahan argues. And he’s right. Should there be an accident before the season, any small chance that Hightower had of resurrecting his injury-laden career will be over. Going easy on the lad is better for the athlete, better for the team, and better for those who analyze the health-conscious nature of coaches and medical personnel.
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