It took three games but last Sunday in New York Redskins rookie running back Rob Kelley finally hit the field with the offense. His effectiveness was middling as he ran four times for seven yards, but Kelley showed himself to be capable of backing up Matt Jones as a conventional runner.
The rookie from New Orleans also explained why a few of his runs were cut short.
"I think I was too excited, I kept slipping around or something," Kelley said on Wednesday.
Twice Kelley lost his footing on the Giants Stadium turf, and the slips ruined what could have been opportunities for solid gains. In preseason action Kelley did a good job of identifying holes to run through, and despite the footing issues, that skill showed in New York as well.
"We hadn't been on turf in a long time. Even in pregame, we had a little trouble keeping grounded on the turf," Kelley explained. "I think I saw the holes pretty well, I think I was making the cuts I needed to make, I just got to stay on my feet next time."
Kelley has been active for all three 'Skins games this season but did not record a carry until the third, coincidentally the team's first win. His first game action on offense was quite a jolt for the rookie.
"It was more exciting. Preseason is cool but you go out in a real game it's different," he said. "Once I got out there I thought I was going to be nervous. I wanted to make some plays. I was actually shocked I wasn't kinda nervous, I was more excited than anything."
While Kelley's performance was not the spark responsible for victory, getting carries to a third running back - after Jones and Chris Thompson - shows a true commitment to the run game from Jay Gruden and Sean McVay. That commitment was missing the first two games.
"When Matt Jones get a few more carries I think it's a good sign for me to get some," Kelley said. "I think coach has put together a good game plan for us."
For Jones, he was happy to see Kelley get rush attempts. Just last season, Jones was the rookie hitting the field for the first time.
"It was good to see him get some carries and get downhill," Jones said. The 'Skins starting runner added of Kelley's footing, "He knows he's got to stay on the ground."
Committing to the run for Washington means committing to Jones primarily, yet it could also mean more carries for Kelley. Odds are in his next NFL action he can keep his feet on the ground.
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