Heat up the Robert Kelley bandwagon.
The Washington Redskins ruled out starting running back Matt Jones for Sunday's game in London against the Bengals. Jones hasn't practiced all week after apparently suffering a knee injury in the Week 7 loss at Detroit.
Not long after arriving in London Friday, the Redskins announced the promotion of running back Mack Brown from the practice squad and the release of safety Josh Evans. The news here wasn't about the addition of Brown, a preseason darling, to the 53-man roster. It was that the move served as a strong indication that Jones wouldn't be among the 46 players facing the Cincinnati Bengals Sunday at London's Wembley Stadium. The Redskins turned speculation into reality a couple of hours later.
Without their leading rusher, the Redskins would have only had Kelley and Chris Thompson as their active running backs, hence Brown's addition.
Head coach Jay Gruden previously revealed was that "if Matt has an issue where he can’t go it would be Robert in the lead role, more likely" with Thompson remaining in his change-of-pace/pass-catching role. It's possible that Kelley would have received more work regardless against the Bengals after Jones' penchant for fumbles resurfaced against Detroit with a key turnover inside the the Lions' 5-yard-line.
My two thoughts on this scenario:
* For all those wanting more "Fat Rob," here you go. We'll see how much work he actually receives; Thompson will play plenty and perhaps more than planned depending on game flow. Regardless, Kelley now gets an extended opportunity to show he's got the goods for lead back work. The early indications based on the undrafted free agent's work from Organized Team Activities to training camp to preseason to his limited usage in the regular season suggest he does. This is also a chance to see if Gruden's man-crush on the runner with impressive vision and cutting ability blooms should Kelley get the job done. Cincinnati ranks 23rd in rush yards allowed (118.4). Fantasy Footballers should get excited as well.
* From the moment the Redskins let Alfred Morris leave town, the fears were as followed: What happens if Matt Jones keeps fumbling and can't stay healthy? Well, here we are. Maybe Jones just needs a breather and maybe he never fumbles the ball again. I don't think anyone is willing to bet much on either of those scenarios. That's why it was a risk for Washington not to have any kind of proven backup option. Kelley is certainly interesting. I feel like I've been among those touting the kid from the jump. That doesn't mean he's ready for main man duties, which include pass protection and route running, for a playoff contender. If Kelley and Brown, should the latter play on offense, don't get the job done and the Jones injury lingers, the Redskins could be shopping for a veteran before they fly back across the pond. Either scenario won't surprise me even though I'm excited to see what Kelley can do.
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