Despite Redskins confidence in Robert Kelley, starting RB job up for grabs
By Ian Cummings
The Redskins have expressed their confidence in Robert Kelley on more than one occasion this offseason. But while coaches have raved about his growth, he’s shown none of it on the field.
Perhaps it would be unfair to judge Robert Kelley on his preseason play. After putting up 12 carries for 11 yards in his first two games, improvement is a must in Week 3 against the Bengals. But he hasn’t had a lot of help. His offensive line has struggled to give him running room, and Kirk Cousins has been off, hurting the versatility of the offense.
But a good running back creates for himself when he has no help. And so far, Robert Kelley has done little of that. He showed flashes of brilliance last year, consistently turning losses into gains and short runs into big gains. But at the end of the year, he disappeared when the team needed him most. And even though he remains the lead back, he has a rookie and a veteran on his heels, fighting for carries.
The team has confidence in Kelley, and they’ve expressed that multiple times. But if Kelley has hit his ceiling, then the team won’t put their faith in him as the lead back for much longer. Samaje Perine is a younger back with potential. And showed that on Saturday night against the Packers.
Robert Kelley is also young. But his ceiling is more clear. He can be a very good running back. A Marshawn Lynch-esque player. But that’s only for the optimistic. More than likely Kelley will peak as a serviceable but predictable starter. It’s too early to close the book on Kelley. But one has to wonder. If he doesn’t improve on his promising 2016 season, then Samaje Perine could end up earning more starting reps.
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Having multiple talented running backs is a good problem to have. But it does pave way for a minor issue. Who becomes your starter? For now, Kelley seems to have that role locked, regardless of his preseason play. But when the regular season hits, all eyes will be on the Tulane product. Because if he can’t create for himself, he’ll end up creating a job opportunity for someone who just might be able to.