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Jay Gruden loves Rob Kelley, but would also love drafting a 'special' RB

Jay Gruden loves Rob Kelley, but would also love drafting a 'special' RB

Redskins coach Jay Gruden has a very high opinion of running back Rob Kelley. He surprised many by making the 53-man roster as an undrafted rookie last year and when starter Matt Jones faltered, Kelley took over as the starter for the last nine games.

“Oh, man, I love Rob Kelley,” Gruden told reporters earlier this week at the NFL meetings in Phoenix.

“I thought he played great. You throw a rookie free agent into the fire like that and see him play and compete. Not one time did I feel like it was too big for him. Not once. That’s a hell of a thing to say for a kid out of Tulane who only had a couple of carries his senior year. He came right in, he competes on every play.”

Actually, Kelley had 65 carries as a senior at Tulane, for 232 yards and one touchdown.

But Gruden’s overall point about Kelley being a little-used back in college. In four years with the Green Wave he never had as many as 100 carries in a single season.

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Kelley got 168 carries in the NFL last year, gaining 704 yards. He scored six touchdowns, the same number that he scored in 49 games at Tulane.

Gruden was not done singing Kelley’s praises.

“He had some of the greatest two-yard runs I’ve seen,” the coach continued.

“He gets back to the line of scrimmage, he keeps his feet moving, he protects the ball. He’s going to get better in pass protection. Catching the ball, he did a nice job. He dropped a couple here and there but for the most part he catches the ball. I really think the vision he has he’ll be more patient as a runner this year. I think he’s going to be a good back, I really do.

“A lot of people think we need a great running back. I think Rob is a great running back, I really do.”

While that certainly is a ringing endorsement, Gruden wouldn’t shy away upgrading the position in the draft.

“There are some special players in this draft, if they’re available they’d be hard to pass up, quite frankly,” Gruden said moments after lauding Kelley.

MORE REDSKINS: JAY GRUDEN BULLISH ON 2017 REDSKINS

Two of the running back considered “special” who may be available when the Redskins make their pick in the first round are Dalvin Cook of Florida State and Christian McCaffrey of Stanford. In a separate interview with JP Finlay of CSN, Gruden talked about those two backs.

 “That’s the thing about those two guys, they can move around,” said Gruden. “They’re not just lining up in the I formation running the power play. They can line up outside at different spots, play receiver, catch the ball out of the backfield and they can also run it between the tackles. They’re not just one dimensional players, they’re very exciting.”

So to sum up the coach’s thought process here, Gruden thinks that Kelley is a “great” running back but the team would find it tough to pass on “special” and “exciting” alternatives. It doesn’t sound to me like Kelley should get too comfortable with the idea of being the lead dog at running back. And those Redskins fans who have earmarked that first-round draft pick for defense may end up being very disappointed.   

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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Need to Know: The pace picks up as the Redskins return to Ashburn

Need to Know: The pace picks up as the Redskins return to Ashburn

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, August 16, 17 days before the Washington Redskins cut their roster to 53 on September 2.

Timeline

The Redskins last played a game 227 days ago; they will open the 2017 season against the Eagles at FedEx Field in 25 days.

Today’s schedule: Practice 1 p.m.; Jay Gruden news conference and player availability after practice, approx. 3 p.m.

Days until:

—Preseason vs. Packers at FedEx Field (8/19) 3
—Redskins @ Rams (9/17) 32
—Sunday night Raiders @ Redskins (9/24) 39

The pace picks up at Redskins Park

The Redskins have returned from Richmond and they get to work in Ashburn today with a 1 p.m. practice. It has been nearly week since their first preseason game. Now they have three days to get ready to play the Packers on Saturday. After that, things keep moving quickly as the Redskins get ready to play the Eagles in the season opener on September 10.

—They will have a week of practice that is close to a regular-season week. They play the Bengals on Sunday afternoon at FedEx Field so they will have a full seven day’s to get ready for so-called “dress rehearsal” for the regular season. I have the quotes around it because they still don’t game plan or scout the opponent much if at all. But the starters should play at least the first half.

—After that, it’s quick turnaround as they get a couple of days of practice before heading down to Tampa to play the Bucs in the fourth preseason game on Thursday night. The short turnaround isn’t much of a concern as it will be the front-line players participating in the Bengals game and the bottom half of the roster scrapping for the last four to six spots still up for grabs will be playing at Raymond James Stadium.  

—The coaches don’t get much of a breather after that. After the clock hits 0:00 in Tampa they will have about 40 hours to get the roster cut down to 53. Starting this year, there is no first cut prior to the fourth preseason game so they go from 89 (Trent Murphy going to injured reserve takes care of one roster reduction already) to 53. That means that 36 decisions must be made and 36 players must be informed that they are no longer part of the team.

—After 1 p.m. on Sunday, the Redskins can start signing members of their 10-player practice squad. While many of them are likely to come from the pool of players they just cut, not all of them will. The team then starts to prepare for the regular season.

—For the final item here, an answer to a fan’s question from Twitter.

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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What Su'a Cravens's surgery means for the Redskins' safety plans

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USA Today Sports

What Su'a Cravens's surgery means for the Redskins' safety plans

Su'a Cravens will miss the entire preseason for the Redskins, save for three snaps already logged against the Ravens.

In those three snaps, Cravens injured his knee, and on Tuesday, Adam Schefter reported the second-year safety will undergo surgery on the knee

The surgery will clean up swelling that occured in his knee following the Ravens game, per a source, and Cravens should be good to go for Washington in Week 1 of the regular season. 

For Redskins fans, there might be some reason to worry.

One argument might suggest that Cravens has never played safety in the NFL after being used his entire rookie season as a linebacker. Therefore, Cravens needs the practice reps as a safety. 

<<CLICK HERE FOR PHOTOS FROM REDSKINS TRAINING CAMP>>

 

While certainly he could use the practice at safety, this concern seemse overblown. Cravens is a much more natural player in the secondary than he ever was at linebacker. In college, Cravens played his best at safety, and his versatility will allow him to do more from the safety spot.

Cravens has already dealt with a number of different injuries, and perhaps that might concern 'Skins fans. As a rookie, Cravens missed time with a concussion and then late in the year with an upper arm injury. He played in 11 of 16 games last year. None of the injuries seem like the lingering type, which is good news. 

With Cravens out the Redskins will turn to Deshazor Everett, a third year player out of Texas A&M. Primarily a special teams force, Everett got minimal playing time at safety in 2016. In his only real opportunity to play with the defense in a Week 14 win at Philadelphia, Everett grabbed a vitally important interception in the end zone. 

Everett is unknown, but has ability. He also has a big opportunity these next three games playing alongside D.J. Swearinger. 

Behind Everett, the Redskins best options are both working back from injuries. Rookie Montae Nicholson, a somewhat surprising fourth-round selection out of Michigan State, just returned to team drills during the last few practices in Richmond. Nicholson has size and track speed, but much remains to be seen if he can improve his cover and tackling ability. 

Don't forget about veteran DeAngelo Hall. He started the season on the PUP list, expectedly, after landing on the injured reserve in 2016. Hall hasn't played a full season since 2013, when Mike Shanahan was still the Redskins coach and RG3 the starting quarterback. A lot has changed since then. 

Watching from the sidelines in Richmond during training camp, Hall seemed more of a coach than a player working back from injury, though he was seen running on the drill field late in camp. It would be a major surprise if Hall played in the preseason.

The Redskins intend to go with Cravens against the Eagles. Everett will be the backup plan. Nicholson has much to prove, and Hall still seems far away from seeing the field as a player. 

MORE REDSKINS: With Murphy out, Redskins to rely more on injury-prone Galette

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