Over the last two seasons the Washington Redskins have boasted the NFL‘s most charged rush attack. The Redskins went on the warpath during Robert Griffin III‘s rookie season and wielded the league’s chief ground assault, despite their prized signal caller being dropped 68 times. But after riding the league’s 1st and 5th-ranked ground assault over the past two seasons, there is little doubt that Washington’s backfield won’t pick up right where it left off in 2014. They are fueled by a loaded stable of veteran thoroughbreds that have been chomping at the mouthpiece, poised for an explosive ejection right out of the gate.
Though third-year mustang Alfred Morris has been the Redskins’ champion pedigree, fourth-year back Roy Helu Jr. has fielded his share of the ground game’s workload. The 2011 fourth-round draft pick has made detonating contributions to the Redskins’ offensive strategics. And that’s an understatement.
Helu has motored out nearly 1,000 yards on the ground since he was selected by the Redskins three years ago. Powered by an engine that has yet to blow from excessive accelerator mashing, Helu posted unignorable numbers with the Redskins with 62 touches for 274 yards, a 4.4 yard average and four touchdowns last season. Do you know what that is? That’s a scary scouting report. Those are eyebrow-raising numbers for a back who shares a depth chart and rotation behind Washington’s freight train, Morris.
Helu’s field vision, instincts and pass protection skills are also sound, which is paramount to anchoring reliable insurance coverage for Griffin when he drops back in the pocket. Helu doesn’t have the imposing physique of a tight end, but he never balks when confronted with the responsibility of stymieing a blitz overload or an abrupt shift in defensive alignments. And while he’s certainly no Reggie Bush, when checked down to provide support in the passing game, Helu has delivered.
It should be noted that Helu is not necessarily a lock on the Redskins depth chart this season. He is a tried and true back for the club’s third-down role entering his third season in the NFL. But presiding freshman skipper Jay Gruden has made it inescapably clear that from Rookie Mini Camp until the season opener, his highly selective evaluation process of personnel, depth chart rotations and coveted roster spots will feature heightened competition…every day and at every position.
You needn’t advise Helu of the stakes. They’re high. He has the likes of freshmen Chris Thompson and Lache Seastrunk collectively vying for his job. Helu’s response? Come get it. His seasoned status does give him an edge…of mere inches. And that’s no bargaining chip. Regardless of which back Gruden turns loose this fall, it would be a really bad idea to sleep on the Redskins’ ground game.