Matt Jones had his fair share of struggles during his rookie, 2015 season with the Washington Redskins. He was plagued by ball security problems early and a hip pointer injury late. Washington needs a dependable Plan B if Jones encounters similar issues in the coming season.
With Alfred Morris gone, the Redskins stand to benefit from adding a veteran running back to round out the backfield, which currently consists of Jones and third-down back Chris Thompson. Unrestricted free agent James Starks could fit the bill.
Starks could prove a viable complement to Jones in early-down work. Despite being at what is often considered an advanced age for the position, Starks, 30, hasn’t compiled too much mileage, working almost exclusively in tandem with other backs, most recently Eddie Lacy, since being drafted by the Packers in 2010.
The 6-foot-2, 218-pound bruiser also happens to be coming off of his most complete season as a pro, finishing just seven yards shy of 1000 all-purpose yards. Starks rushed for 601 yards and two touchdowns while compiling 392 yards and three touchdowns through the air. It was, by far, his best season as a receiver out of the backfield. His newfound versatility, along with his size, makes him a solid option on third downs with less than five yards to go.
But Starks is also coming off of his worst season in terms of ball control, fumbling five times and losing three of them. With the uncertainty about whether Jones will move past his own fumbling issues from last season, Starks’ ball security issues could represent a large red flag for the Redskins. At the same time, he hadn’t had any significant problems carrying the ball before 2015, so it’s possible that last season's struggles in that regard were an aberration .
Regardless, the Redskins need an experienced runner to complement Jones in the backfield. Along with names like LeGarrette Blount and Matt Asiata, Starks figures to be an affordable option worth a long look.
Dan Roth is a freelance sportswriter and Breaking Burgundy contributor. Follow Dan on Twitter @DanRothDC.
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