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Jay Gruden loves Rob Kelley, but would also love drafting a 'special' RB

Jay Gruden loves Rob Kelley, but would also love drafting a 'special' RB

Redskins coach Jay Gruden has a very high opinion of running back Rob Kelley. He surprised many by making the 53-man roster as an undrafted rookie last year and when starter Matt Jones faltered, Kelley took over as the starter for the last nine games.

“Oh, man, I love Rob Kelley,” Gruden told reporters earlier this week at the NFL meetings in Phoenix.

“I thought he played great. You throw a rookie free agent into the fire like that and see him play and compete. Not one time did I feel like it was too big for him. Not once. That’s a hell of a thing to say for a kid out of Tulane who only had a couple of carries his senior year. He came right in, he competes on every play.”

Actually, Kelley had 65 carries as a senior at Tulane, for 232 yards and one touchdown.

But Gruden’s overall point about Kelley being a little-used back in college. In four years with the Green Wave he never had as many as 100 carries in a single season.

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Kelley got 168 carries in the NFL last year, gaining 704 yards. He scored six touchdowns, the same number that he scored in 49 games at Tulane.

Gruden was not done singing Kelley’s praises.

“He had some of the greatest two-yard runs I’ve seen,” the coach continued.

“He gets back to the line of scrimmage, he keeps his feet moving, he protects the ball. He’s going to get better in pass protection. Catching the ball, he did a nice job. He dropped a couple here and there but for the most part he catches the ball. I really think the vision he has he’ll be more patient as a runner this year. I think he’s going to be a good back, I really do.

“A lot of people think we need a great running back. I think Rob is a great running back, I really do.”

While that certainly is a ringing endorsement, Gruden wouldn’t shy away upgrading the position in the draft.

“There are some special players in this draft, if they’re available they’d be hard to pass up, quite frankly,” Gruden said moments after lauding Kelley.

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Two of the running back considered “special” who may be available when the Redskins make their pick in the first round are Dalvin Cook of Florida State and Christian McCaffrey of Stanford. In a separate interview with JP Finlay of CSN, Gruden talked about those two backs.

 “That’s the thing about those two guys, they can move around,” said Gruden. “They’re not just lining up in the I formation running the power play. They can line up outside at different spots, play receiver, catch the ball out of the backfield and they can also run it between the tackles. They’re not just one dimensional players, they’re very exciting.”

So to sum up the coach’s thought process here, Gruden thinks that Kelley is a “great” running back but the team would find it tough to pass on “special” and “exciting” alternatives. It doesn’t sound to me like Kelley should get too comfortable with the idea of being the lead dog at running back. And those Redskins fans who have earmarked that first-round draft pick for defense may end up being very disappointed.   

Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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Two other Redskins RBs intend to learn whatever they can from Adrian Peterson

Two other Redskins RBs intend to learn whatever they can from Adrian Peterson

A few weeks ago, running backs coach Randy Jordan floated a hypothetical out to his unit: If you could start a franchise with any guy, who would you pick?

Rob Kelley's answer was Adrian Peterson. And as fate would have it, Peterson is now a part of Kelley's franchise, a fact that has the third-year back floored. 

"I was kind of amazed," Kelley said on Tuesday, which was Peterson's first day as a 'Skin. "I have a opportunity to play with Adrian Peterson, it feels surreal."

Kapri Bibbs' reaction was much of the same.

"It's amazing having him in the building," he told reporters. "I couldn't hope for anything better."

Samaje Perine wasn't in a position to speak to the media by the time the locker room was closed, but at least in the eyes of Kelley and Bibbs, Peterson's arrival is something to embrace. It's not too often you get to go through drills and meetings with a guy who's going to have a bust in Canton sometime soon.

"I don't think there really is a cap to that," Bibbs answered when asked what he's hoping to pick up from Washington's new No. 26. "There's not too much you can learn from him."

"I got him here, what can I learn from him?" Kelley said in reponse to a similar question. "What can I gain from this situation? How can I make myself a better player by watching him?"

Bibbs revealed that Peterson is already "spilling information" to him, which lines up with Peterson saying at the podium in Ashburn he wants to come in and be a positive influence on the rest of the group.

However, Peterson also said in his presser that he "without a doubt" wants to be the starter, and if that does eventually happen, it'll come at the expense of someone else's spot on the roster or someone else's reps in a game, whether that be a Kelley, a Bibbs or a Perine.

That's not something that bothers two of the options already in the Burgundy and Gold's backfield, though.

"I'm always gonna come in every single day, regardless," Bibbs said when Peterson's resume and talents were brought up as something that could pressure him.

Kelley isn't stressed, either.

"Right now, I'm just putting my head down and working and trying to get better."

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Does Adrian Peterson want to start for the Redskins? 'Without a doubt'

Does Adrian Peterson want to start for the Redskins? 'Without a doubt'

Adrian Peterson wants to be a good teammate, but he also made clear that he came to the Redskins to compete for the starting running back job. 

"Without a doubt," Peterson said when asked if he wanted to start. "And I would be cheating myself if that wasn't my approach."

The legendary running back is right, of course. 

Elite athletes always want to be at the top, and that drive is what gets them there. Peterson has run for nearly 12,000 yards in his NFL career, and that doesn't happen by accident.

Coming to Washington presents a different challenge for Peterson. 

Unsigned until August 20th, Peterson ran for a career low 3.4 yards-per-carry last season in split time between the Saints and Cardinals. It's no sure thing he even makes the roster, let alone starts for the Redskins on September 9 when the season begins. 

Peterson, however, is confident he has more left in his legs. 

"I continue to work because at the end of the day I control my output. So that’s why I continue to work hard. I knew an opportunity would present itself. And at the end of the day, God’s willing, stay healthy, the guys up front stay healthy as well, I know that I’ll be able to contribute in a big way in the run game."

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