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Jay Gruden approves of Robert Kelley as RB1: 'He's fun to watch'

Jay Gruden approves of Robert Kelley as RB1: 'He's fun to watch'

Things change quick in the NFL.

Less than a month ago, Matt Jones rushed for 135 yards and a touchdown in a win against the Eagles. The second-year runner looked well on his way to a strong season for Washington. 

Then, following a bout with fumbleitis in Detroit and a knee injury that forced him out of action in London, Jones lost his job to undrafted rookie Robert Kelley. After two games with Kelley as the starter, the job looks like his to keep.

"He’s fun to watch, and he’s going to get better and better," Redskins coach Jay Gruden said of Kelley after the rookie ran for nearly100 yards in a win over Minnesota. 

RELATED: THE BEST IMAGES FROM REDSKINS' WEEK 10 WIN

The coach is right - Kelley is fun to watch. The Tulane product has a knack for making the first tackler miss, a quick shift in his hips and, perhaps most importantly, has been secure with the ball on every one of his NFL carries.

"I thought he ran really, really well," Washington QB Kirk Cousins said of Kelley. 

"I thought he did the same thing against the Bengals. He just picked up where he left off and was phenomenal all day. I was very pleased with the way he ran the football and I can’t say enough good things about him, his effort, the way he produced for us and his approach to the game."

HIgh praise from Cousins, yet deserved. In his last two games - both starts with Jones inactive — Kelley has run for 194 yards and more than 4 yards-per-carry. Most important for Kelley, he rarely loses yards. His run style and ability to make tacklers miss often nets the Washington offense at least a one or two-yard gain even when runs look stuffed from the snap.

"You try and minimize the negative runs. That’s something Coach Gruden talks about a lot to make sure that I get positive runs," Kelley said. "If I get just one yard, stay positive. You can’t go broke with a positive."

Kelley will continue to get the ball for Washington as long as he keeps his approach simple. Multiple times against the Vikings, Kelley broke 10+yard runs, and they all started with making a defender miss. For the season, Kelley averages 3.6 yards per carry after contact, an impressive total.

Leaving the field on Sunday, Kelley held a football under his arm (full video above).

He explained that he wanted to keep that ball for his collection, but he added that it would have been nice to get to 100 yards instead of finishing the game with 97.

"I feel good," Kelley said. "I got 97 yards. I don’t care as long as we got the win with it. I could have had 12 yards and it wouldn’t matter.”

RELATED: WHAT WE LEARNED FROM REDSKINS' WIN OVER VIKINGS

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Redskins Week 3 injury report: Five are listed as questionable

Redskins Week 3 injury report: Five are listed as questionable

The Redskins had a tough, physical game against the Rams last Sunday and it shows on the team’s injury report. Five players are listed as questionable for the coming game against the Raiders at FedEx Field.

TE Jordan Reed (chest), RB Rob Kelley (ribs), ILB Mason Foster (shoulder), S Montae Nicholson (shoulder), and CB Josh Norman (shoulder) are the players who are questionable.

RELATED: MUST-SEE PHOTOS FROM REDSKINS' WIN IN LA

Of those players, Reed was the only one to miss a practice this week. He was out on Wednesday and was back on a limited basis on Thursday and Friday. The Pro Bowl tight end told reporters in the locker room that he will be in the lineup on Sunday.

There is particular concern about Kelley’s injury. He is likely to start as he usually does. But CSN is reporting that the team will have four running backs on the game day active list instead of the three they went with in Weeks 1 and 2. Mack Brown will dress for the Redskins after being inactive in both previous games.

MORE REDSKINS: A STRONG START FOR SMITH BUT MORE IS NEEDED

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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Pierre Garcon was fantastic vs. the Rams, but don't lament his departure just yet

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USA TODAY Sports

Pierre Garcon was fantastic vs. the Rams, but don't lament his departure just yet

Thursday night's Rams-49ers game was surprisingly fun. It was also unofficially the Check Out All These Ex-Redskins Now Playing or Working in California Bowl.

Sean McVay and Kyle Shanahan, two former Washington offensive coordinators, are now in charge of the two teams. Old 'Skins like Aldrick Robinson, Derek Carrier and John Sullivan, meanwhile, were a part of the on-field action.

It was Pierre Garçon, though, who pushed Burgundy and Gold fans to take their phones out of their pocket and pen sad tweets. That's because the 31-year-old wideout caught seven Brian Hoyer passes (that's impressive on its own, by the way) for 142 yards vs. Los Angeles on Thursday Night Football.

And while his team lost 41-39, Garçon didn't deserve to with plays like this:

MORE: 5 REDSKINS WHO'LL BE UNDER PRESSURE SUNDAY NIGHT

Even with that standout performance, however, Redskins fans shouldn't be cursing the franchise for letting Garçon go. Not yet, anyway.

This past march, the veteran left D.C. after five seasons to sign with San Fran. His deal was a rich one: five years for $47.5 million ($17 million guaranteed at signing). The Niners can get out of it after two years, but it still is a sizable contract even with that potential exit.

That kind of money is the first thing those who miss Garçon should think about. Now, the Redskins didn't exactly handle their negotiations with him that smoothly, but in the end, unless he gave Washington a nice discount, he just would've cost a lot to keep.

Secondly, it's easy to slam the 'Skins for losing Garçon while Kirk Cousins and Co. have stalled through two games in 2017. But the reason that's happening thus far has more to do with Cousins' inaccuracy in Weeks 1 and 2 and an offensive line that's not at the level it should be than with that familiar No. 88 not lining up outside anymore.

RELATED: NEGATIVES LEAD TO POSITIVES FOR CHRIS THOMPSON

Would Garçon have made a difference for the Redskins against the Eagles and Rams if he were still here? Yeah, probably. But when Jay Gruden's unit starts operating at its normal speed and precision — and it will — the upset voices lamenting Garçon's departure will get quieter.

This is nothing against the guy who was the NFL's 2013 receptions leader and who's well on his way to another productive campaign. It's just that it feels premature to make the connection that allowing him to move on is what's ailing the Washington offense, or that it was a disastrous decision. 

Give Garçon's far cheaper replacements (Terrelle Pryor and Josh Doctson) more time. Wait for the quarterback and his linemen to sync up again. In a league with just 16 games, that's very hard to do, but let's see if those in the area long for Garçon in December as much as they are currently longing for him in September.