Mike Shanahan always likes to talk about players taking advantage of opportunities when they get them. He has said that he likes to give a reserve player who steps in and performs when he is needed additional opportunities down the line.
If that is the case, look for Roy Helu Jr. to get the ball in his hands a little more often as the season goes on. He stepped in for an injured Alfred Morris and made two critical plays to clinch the Redskins’ first game of the year.
The plays came back to back. On the first one he improvised a pass route as Robert Griffin III scrambled to his right. Helu turned a 10-yard pass into 28 yards when he turned up field and hurdled a would-be tackler. On the next play, Helu dashed up the middle to score from 14 yards out to give them a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter.
“When Roy did get his opportunities … I was really pleased with him because he was ready both in the running game and the passing game,” said Shanahan. “You could see his speed, his strength, and he took advantage of a couple of opportunities to get some big plays.”
But will he get more opportunities? He might, according to Kyle Shanahan.
“You never know, you see how the game plays out, what you're getting, what plays you call,” the Redskins’ offensive coordinator said. “We know Helu's a good player, we know what he did his rookie year here. You can tell that he's healthy and that he's the same guy he was his rookie year. I would like to give him the ball more and I think he's done a good job with it. Hopefully it works out for him and we expect him to do what he did [against Oakland].”
As a rookie in 2011, Helu led the team in rushing, picking up 640 yards on 151 carries.
Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, March 17, 40 days before the NFL draft.
The Redskins week that was
A look at some of the most popular posts and hottest topics of the week on Real Redskins and NBC Sports Washington.
Redskins and NFL free agency tracker—I started this a week ago today and it grew to 3,500 words. The problem was there wasn’t much to add by the time that free agency actually started at 4 p.m. on Wednesday. The legal tampering period or, as I dubbed it to avoid an oxymoron being used, the “permitted tampering-like activities period” was when all of the news happened. By the time actual free agency opened on Wednesday afternoon it pretty much was all over. Thanks to those of you who followed along.
Zach Brown agrees to terms with Redskins, per source—Since Kirk Cousins’ departure was a foregone conclusion, Brown was the Redskins’ most important free agent. His retention provides continuity in the defense and that will benefit both the team and Brown. His contract (preliminary numbers three years, $24 million) showed that the Redskins are willing to invest some money in the inside linebacker spot for the first time since Joe Gibbs brought in London Fletcher to play middle linebacker in 2007.
Report: Kirk Cousins to sign epic new deal with Vikings—We heard you, folks. The collective voice of the fans who visit NBC Sports Washington on a regular basis let us know that you were not interested in a lot of posts about the Cousins saga that was unfolding in Minnesota. So this was one of very few articles on Cousins that we posted even though Cousins posts have been popular, but with the vast majority of traffic coming from out of town. So, you’re welcome. It should be noted that we will write about Cousins in the future but infrequently.
Redskins officially announce 5-year deal with WR Richardson—He was the opening act for the Alex Smith press conference, and he handled himself very well. If Richardson is even moderately successful I think he will be a major fan favorite.
Tweet of the week
Here is what fans need to know—a team can afford to do virtually anything it wants in free agency in a given year. If they wanted to the Redskins could restructure deals and sign all of their free agents to contracts that have very small first-year cap hits, creating room to sign the Honey Badger or Suh. The problems come in later years when the cap space you pushed back starts to pile up. The Redskins generally do squeeze free agent contracts into relatively small cap spaces. For example, Richardson’s deal average $8 million per year but the 2018 cap hit is just $4 million. But they don’t like to restructure deals to push money back into later years. That created problems during the Vinny Cerrato years.
Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.
—Offseason workouts begin (4/16) 30
—Training camp starts (approx. 7/26) 132
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 176
In case you missed it
The Redskins had to say good bye to several key players as the 2018 NFL free agency period began.
Cornerback Bashaud Breeland was one of those players.
On Tuesday, Breeland reported agreed to a 3-year, $24 million deal with the Carolina Panthers.
But on Friday afternoon it was reported that Breeland failed a physical, which means he won't be signing with the Panthers, per Panthers reporter Bill Voth.
2018 NFL MOCK DRAFT: REDSKINS OPTIONS AT NO. 13?
If this sounds familiar, it's because it is familiar.
Redskins wide receiver Ryan Grant intended on signing a four-year, $29 million deal with the Ravens. But a failed physical just a day before his introductory press conference meant a voided contract and back to the drawing board.
According to multiple reports, Breeland's failed physical was due to a recent non-football injury. Breeland and the Panthers could still come to an agreement, but the former Clemson star is now back to being a free agent and will have to pass a physical before officially signing with a new team.
According to ESPN's David Newton, Breeland injured his foot on vacation in the Dominican Republic and will need his skin grafted in order to repair the injury.
The Redskins were one of the NFL's most injured teams in 2017, and that trend appears to have extended to the offseason.
NFL FREE AGENCY: TRACKING THE LATEST MOVES