Washington Redskins’ Roy Helu: The Forgotten Man in the Backfield

By Greg Bradshaw
Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE

Washington Redskins’ running back Roy Helu was the featured back for the Redskins in 2011. He led the team in rushing, and was the team’s third leading receiver out of the backfield with 49 receptions. However, before the start of the 2012 NFL season, Washington head coach Mike Shanahan declared the starting running back position was an open competition.

Despite Helu’s experience, it was 2012 sixth round draft choice Alfred Morris who won the starting position. That had to be disappointing to Helu. Making matters worse is that Helu  has only two carries on the season. It seems that he’s been relegated to third string running back status, behind Morris and second year running back Evan Royster.

It’s not clear whether or not Helu is in Shanahan’s doghouse, or if the production of Morris and Royster warrants them getting the majority of the work at running back. Helu’s capability as a receiver dictates that he should get more playing time than he is currently receiving. However, Morris is currently fourth in the NFL in rushing. Therefore, it would be hard to justify giving some of his carries to Helu.

Making things more interesting is the running ability of quarterback Robert Griffin III, who is the Redskins’ second leading rusher behind Morris. In essence, Washington’s running game currently consists of Morris and Griffin III. The fact that Griffin III is getting so many carries should concern Redskins’ fans, considering that he was knocked out of the Week Five game against the Atlanta Falcons.

Helu should keep himself prepared for game action.  Although Griffin III will play Week Six against the Minnesota Vikings, it’s hard to tell how effective he will be. Morris seems capable of handling the workload at running back, but Shanahan should consider using Helu to take a few carries away from Griffin III. He would be efficient out of the backfield on third downs, and could give Morris a rest.  Helu can be used on screens, or out in the flat.  Or if Shanahan really  wants to shake things up, he could split Helu outside as a wide receiver.

Shanahan has several different ways to use Helu, one of the most underrated backs in the league in regards to versatility. Washington Redskins’ fans hope that Helu’s confidence doesn’t wane too much due to a lack of touches. He provides depth to the running back position, which is currently needed in the NFL.  Players are stronger and faster than ever before, which makes injuries in the game more prevalent. If Shanahan can keep Helu motivated, Helu will prove to be a valuable asset to Washington’s offense.

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