The newcomer has benefited greatly from his D.C. surrounds, a strong supporting cast, and most importantly, an offensive policy that plays to his strengths. The men protecting the fourth-year back out of Richmond have sealed blocks supremely thus far, allowing their nimble running mate to break off a couple of scorching runs during these "primaries".
Coach Shanahan's linemen are certainly a quick and bold congress, shifting as they need, and able to hold defenders on the weak side. Their resolve encourages Hightower's sharp cutbacks. As a result, Washington leads the NFL in running this preseason with 152.3 yards per game, and Hightower contributes 6.8 yards per carry to that total. This is a player whose career 3.9 yard average had made him disposable in John McCain's home state. That's what a fresh campaign manager like Shanahan can deliver for you.
Hightower's 37-yard bolt against the Ravens last week was not only encouraging for Redskins fans - who have surely forgotten that yes, they can win - but was a burst of power that stunned the usually vaunted Baltimore defense.
Starting deep in the backfield, No.39 took the ball from John Beck while charging sharply to the right. The blockers stepped and parried in the same direction with the type of cohesion you'd applaud the Redskins cheerleaders for, let alone a bunch of 300-pounders.And as the Ravens backpedalled, arms pinned and feet splayed, Hightower jigged and sliced left. There was nothing that could be done once he entered daylight. He chugged across and around a stretched defensive backfield all the way to the far corner.
The night ended with Hightower tallying 59 yards on just nine carries. Yes, Skins faithful, have a spring in your step - your feature back finally does! And if he can continue to rip through tougher defenses with the same tenacity, and his line keeps opening holes wider than the 14th Street Bridge, there's little question Hightower could morph into a top 10 fantasy back.
Okay, there is still a possible deficit in the D.C. quarterback situation, which historically causes heartache amongst supporters and fantasy owners alike. But Beck and Rex Grossman have shown promise and are not afraid to send the ball rocketing down field. So at the very least, defenses will have to honor the pass, even if they're not quaking in their cleats.
Sometimes doubt can inhibit men as much as fear and that's all Hightower needs to make the most of his 10-15 carries, and earn his place as Washington's new standard.