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Jay Gruden approves of Robert Kelley as RB1: 'He's fun to watch'

Jay Gruden approves of Robert Kelley as RB1: 'He's fun to watch'

Things change quick in the NFL.

Less than a month ago, Matt Jones rushed for 135 yards and a touchdown in a win against the Eagles. The second-year runner looked well on his way to a strong season for Washington. 

Then, following a bout with fumbleitis in Detroit and a knee injury that forced him out of action in London, Jones lost his job to undrafted rookie Robert Kelley. After two games with Kelley as the starter, the job looks like his to keep.

"He’s fun to watch, and he’s going to get better and better," Redskins coach Jay Gruden said of Kelley after the rookie ran for nearly100 yards in a win over Minnesota. 

RELATED: THE BEST IMAGES FROM REDSKINS' WEEK 10 WIN

The coach is right - Kelley is fun to watch. The Tulane product has a knack for making the first tackler miss, a quick shift in his hips and, perhaps most importantly, has been secure with the ball on every one of his NFL carries.

"I thought he ran really, really well," Washington QB Kirk Cousins said of Kelley. 

"I thought he did the same thing against the Bengals. He just picked up where he left off and was phenomenal all day. I was very pleased with the way he ran the football and I can’t say enough good things about him, his effort, the way he produced for us and his approach to the game."

HIgh praise from Cousins, yet deserved. In his last two games - both starts with Jones inactive — Kelley has run for 194 yards and more than 4 yards-per-carry. Most important for Kelley, he rarely loses yards. His run style and ability to make tacklers miss often nets the Washington offense at least a one or two-yard gain even when runs look stuffed from the snap.

"You try and minimize the negative runs. That’s something Coach Gruden talks about a lot to make sure that I get positive runs," Kelley said. "If I get just one yard, stay positive. You can’t go broke with a positive."

Kelley will continue to get the ball for Washington as long as he keeps his approach simple. Multiple times against the Vikings, Kelley broke 10+yard runs, and they all started with making a defender miss. For the season, Kelley averages 3.6 yards per carry after contact, an impressive total.

Leaving the field on Sunday, Kelley held a football under his arm (full video above).

He explained that he wanted to keep that ball for his collection, but he added that it would have been nice to get to 100 yards instead of finishing the game with 97.

"I feel good," Kelley said. "I got 97 yards. I don’t care as long as we got the win with it. I could have had 12 yards and it wouldn’t matter.”

RELATED: WHAT WE LEARNED FROM REDSKINS' WIN OVER VIKINGS

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NFL Schedule Release 2018: Rumors, news, dates, home, away opponents

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NFL Schedule Release 2018: Rumors, news, dates, home, away opponents

The 2018 NFL schedule will be released at 8:00 p.m. ET on Thursday, April 19.

The 2018 NFL Season begins on Thursday, Sept. 6 with the Thursday Night Football season-opener. Week 1 commences on Sunday, Sept. 9 with a full slate of games.

But what we still have yet to find out is when each team plays each other. Home and away opponents, plus intra- and inter-conference matchups have already been announced, but the 2018 NFL schedule release will tell us when the teams will play.

The 2018 NFL schedule rumor mill has already started, with reports that the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles will host the Minnesota Vikings on Thursday in Week 1 for the season-opener in a rematch of the NFC championship game. And as it tends to be, that news is incorrect. The Atlanta Falcons will head to Philadelphia to take on the Eagles in Week 1. 

Here is everything we know about the 2018 NFL Schedule:

Redskins 2018 NFL Schedule Rumors, News

Per out-of-town reports, we have the dates of some of the Redskins games. 

WEEK 1: Redskins at Cardinals. SOURCES: Per NBC Sports Washington's JP Finlay, the Redskins' will open the 2018 NFL regular season on the road in Week 1 to take on the Arizona Cardinals.

WEEK 5: Redskins at Saints. NEWS: The Redskins will travel to Louisiana for a early-season Monday Night Football game against the Saints. This would be a rematch of one of the 2017 games of the year. According to WDSU-TV New Orleans.

WEEK 8: Redskins at Giants. NEWS:  The Redskins will visit the New York Giants on Sunday, October 28 with a 1:00 p.m game at MetLife Stadium, according to an early leaked version of the Giants' 2018 schedule.

WEEK 10: Redkins at Buccaneers: NEWS: On Sunday, November 11 the Redskins will travel to Tampa Bay to play the Bucs. This should mark the Redskins' first game against their former star wide receiver, DeSean Jackson. 

WEEK 12: Reskins vs. Cobwoys: SOURCES: Per our JP Finlay, the Redskins will play on Thanksgiving, Thursday Nov. 22. Our Rich Tandler notes that the Redskins are the only NFC team still unaccounted for on Thanksgiving on the Cowboys schedule.

WEEK 14: Giants at Redskins. NEWS: The Giants' will visit to Washington will take place on December 9 in what also is a Sunday 1:00 p.m. game, according to the leaked schedule

2018 NFL Schedule Rumors, News

NEWS: Week 1: Falcons at Eagles. Two days after Eskin's report, numerous media outlets report that the Atlanta Falcons, not the Vikings, wil be heading to Philadelphia to take on the Eagles in the 2018 NFL season-opener.

RUMOR: Week 1: Vikings at Eagles. Howard Eskin of Sports Radio WIP reports that a rematch of the NFC Championship Game will serve as the 2018 NFL season-opener with the Vikings heading to Philadelphia to take on the Eagles.

NEWS: Week 6: Seahawks vs. Raiders: The Seahawks and Raiders will head to Tottenham, England for the first game of the 2018 NFL International Series on Sunday, Oct. 14 at 1:00 pm, according the NFL VP of Communications Michael Signora

NEWS: Week 8: Eagles vs. Jaguars: The final game in the London series in 2018 will take place at Wembley Stadium and will feature the defending Super Bowl champions and London's unofficial team, the Jacksonville Jaguars at 9:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, Oct. 28.

NEWS: Week 7: Titans vs. Chargers: The Tennessee Titans and San Diego Chargers are the second set of NFL teams to make the trip overseas. The two AFC teams will play at Wembley Stadium at 9:30 a.m. ET on Sunday, Oct. 21.

NEWS: Week 12: Chiefs vs. Rams: The NFL returns to Mexico for a Monday Night Football matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Rams at Estadio Azteca at 8;15 p.m. ET on Monday, Nov. 19, according the NFL VP of Communications Michael Signora

Redskins 2018 Home Opponents:

Philadelphia Eagles
Dallas Cowboys
New York Giants
Carolina Panthers (NFC South)
Green Bay Packers (NFC North)
Atlanta Falcons (NFC South)
Indianapolis Colts (AFC South)
Houston Texans (AFC South)

Redskins 2018 Away Opponents:

Philadelphia Eagles 
Dallas Cowboys
New York Giants
New Orleans Saints (NFC South)
Arizona Cardinals (NFC West)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (NFC South)
Tennessee Titans (AFC South)
Jacksonville Jaguars (AFC South)

RELATED: PROJECTING THE REDSKINS' 2018 SCHEDULE

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Redskins draft countdown: Georgia RB Sony Michel

Redskins draft countdown: Georgia RB Sony Michel

Redskins draft countdown

Sony Michel

Running back
Georgia

Sony Michel is a solid north-south runner who also can bounce outside and pick up yardage. He shared playing time with Nick Chubb last year and still ran for 1,277 yards, averaging 7.9 yards per carry, and scored 16 touchdowns against SEC competition. Michel also showed his bona fides in the passing game, catching 64 career passes and showing that he can handle pass protection. 

Height: 5-11
Weight: 220
40-yard dash:4.54

Projected draft round:2

How he fits the Redskins: The Redskins have made no secret of their desire to draft an upgrade at running back. They would prefer one who can catch passes out of the backfield and gain yardage between the tackles. Sony Michel can do both as well as pop for yardage on the outside. There is a good chance that he will be on the board when the Redskins draft in the second round. Since they don’t have a third-round pick, this may be the last chance to get an upgrade in this draft. 

Film review: vs. Notre Dame, vs. Alabama

—The first thing to say here is that the Bulldogs had a quality run-blocking offensive line. Michel frequently had big holes to run through. For his part, Michel maximized his gains when he had a big opening, hitting it quickly and working north-south. 

—He also can pick up yards through just a small crease, again by hitting it with urgency and gaining momentum to drive for the final few yards. 

—Michel didn’t do a whole lot of pass protection in the plays I watched, but he was solid when he did. On one play against Notre Dame, he put a blitzing defensive back on the ground. Against Alabama, he got in the way of likely first-round pick Da’Ron Payne long enough to allow the quarterback to get off a deep pass. To be sure, he didn’t blow Payne away but his block was effective.

—Besides the O-line, Michel also got quality blocking from his receivers. Again, he took advantage, reading the blocks and maximizing the gain. 

—He also can get it done without much help. On third and 20 against the vaunted Alabama defense, he headed up the middle and quickly went outside when he saw no running room. He headed to the sideline with four Alabama defenders and no blockers in sight. Michel found another gear and accelerated down the sideline to convert the third and long.  

—He later converted a third and 10 on a draw play, quickly getting up to speed and zipping through traffic to move the sticks. 

Potential issues: Although he has decent speed, he’s not the home run threat you might want in a back taken in the second round. And Michel isn’t really a power back either, although he can fight for extra yards. 

Despite his limitations, there is chatter that Michel might be drafted early in the second round or perhaps even late in the first. It’s hard to separate the smoke and speculation from reality as we sit a week before the draft starts. But he’s a talented back and if Derrius Guice goes off the board earlier than most expect, a run on runners could include Michel. 

Bottom line: Saquon Barkley is the obvious top running back and he surely will be gone when the Redskins pick in the first round. After that, the Redskins have plenty of options. They like Guice but 13 may be too high for him and he is likely to be gone when their pick in the second is on the clock. Michel is one of a few possibilities there, a group that also would include Michel’s former teammate Nick Chubb, Ronald Jones of USC and others. Without a peek at the draft board in Ashburn, we will just have to wait and see. 

Redskins draft countdown

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.