ASHBURN -- Jay Gruden's final answer during his Wednesday press conference primarily focused on undrafted free agent running back Robert Kelley. I'll explain why I'm specifying it this way momentarily, but first, here's that answer from the Washington Redskins' head coach sans context:
“Yeah, it could happen. Rob did a good job. ‘Fat Rob,’ that what is on his backpack. He did a nice job… That’s his nickname in college if you didn’t know that – ‘Fat Rob’ Kelley. But anyway, he was impressive. He’s been impressive since we got him. He’s got great vision. He’s built low to the ground and he really runs hard and that showed up against Atlanta and I’d like to see him in an expanded role, see how he does. Keith Marshall didn’t get a lot of good, real looks in the game. He had a screen pass, we wish we would have seen a little bit more, but I’d like to get him more looks. He’s shown worthy of getting more looks. Some of the explosive plays that he’s had out here in camp, we’ve got to get him the ball too. We’ve got some interesting battles there and I like to see these guys get the ball with some looks.”
We'll get into the answer, but another delay. Here's the question that was asked of Gruden:
"Jay, Su'a Cravens and Robert Kelley. Both young guys played and had a lot of energy in the (Falcons) game. It seems like when they've gotten their chances, they made plays. Is there maybe a plan to see them in more of a greater role, playing with some of the first or second team guys?"
Now let's get into what Gruden said. First off, he said nothing about Cravens. The head coach is asked a question about the team's second-round pick and an undrafted rookie and his entire answer is essentially about the guy who is seemingly iffy to make the team. Washington is basically creating a new defensive spot for Cravens, who was the first player mentioned in the question and then not mentioned in the answer.
My sense is this has nothing to do with Gruden's thoughts on Cravens, who did have some good moments against Atlanta, though more of a mixed bag than what the initial hype suggested. Instead this is another example of Gruden's burgeoning man crush on Kelley.
Now, look at the first part of the answer.
“Yeah, it could happen. Rob did a good job. ‘Fat Rob,’ that what is on his backpack. He did a nice job… That’s his nickname in college if you didn’t know that – ‘Fat Rob’ Kelley."
Gruden makes jokes about players during his pressers. Earlier in the week in Richmond, when asked for his thoughts on Ricky Jean Francois providing free ice cream to children at camp, the coach said, "He is that type of guy. That’s an awesome thing – I hope he doesn’t give the leftovers to (Chris) Baker."
Laughter spread across the media room as a smile ran across the coach's face. Gruden adores the gregarious Chris Baker, who went from being defensive line contributor to having a breakout 2015 campaign. The head coach isn't making jokes on the podium about a player in front of cameras and microphones unless he really likes the guy, whether that's the person or the talent or both.
On Wednesday, Robert Kelley ran with the second unit after entering with the third string against Atlanta and then had his coach told the world his nickname is "Fat Rob" while forgetting to discuss the team's second round pick despite being asked to do just that.
There are three preseason games left and lots could change, but that sure sounds like love to me.
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