Jay Gruden announced Monday that Rob Kelley will miss at least a few games, and possibly land on the injured reserve. That means the Redskins need much more out of rookie Samaje Perine, and that the team will need to sign a free agent running back.
Kelley has been dealing with injuries throughout the season. First came broken ribs and then an ankle injury, but injuries to both his knee and ankle in Sunday's loss to the Vikings landed the second-year pro on crutches and with a boot on his left foot. Considering it's Week 11, and the coach suggested IR to be an option, Kelley's season might be over.
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Chris Thompson remains the most important running back in Washington, but the offense also requires a different type of runner to operate at its best. That means somebody that can run downhill, between the tackles.
Now that somebody will be Samaje Perine.
Fumbles have been an issue for the rookie out of Oklahoma, but against Minnesota, he looked effective. In that game, he ran nine times for 35 yards and added one catch for 25 yards.
With Kelley out, Gruden believes simply that Perine must be better for the Redskins, and that the young player can deliver. On the season, Perine has rushed 66 times for 210 yards with one touchdown reception.
"I just want to see more production. That’s all, and he’s got to get the opportunity," Gruden said. "We’ve got to see, like I said, if we have a guy unblocked in the hole, it’s run him over or make him miss, something, or make sure we continue to get positive yards and keep the chains in favorable down and distance and avoid the negative plays. He’s going to get better and better the more reps he gets and the more carries."
The current roster only holds two healthy RBs, which means the team also must sign another running back.
"We’ll have to go get one, for sure. Whether we claim one on a practice squad or pick up a free agent, have some workouts, we’ll have to get another one in here quickly," Gruden said.
As injuries ravaged the offensive line, Washington was forced to cut Mack Brown three weeks ago prior to the loss to the Cowboys. Brown then signed with the Vikings. The guess here is the Redskins wish they still had Brown, a young player with promise and speed.
One name to watch: Jonathan Williams. A second-year pro currently stashed on the Broncos practice squad, Williams had an impressive preseason with Buffalo. Last season, he played 11 games with the Bills.
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"I have no idea why he's not on an (active) roster," NBC Sports' Josh Norris said of Williams.
Expect to hear a flurry of RB names spotted at Redskins Park. Free agents can come in to work out for the team, while practice squad players must be signed and guaranteed a spot on the Redskins active roster.
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