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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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Report: Native American groups send letter to Roger Goodell asking NFL to force Redskins name change

Report: Native American groups send letter to Roger Goodell asking NFL to force Redskins name change

The push for the Washington Redskins' name to change continued on Monday, as more than a dozen Native American groups sent a letter to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell calling for the league to force the franchise to change its name immediately, according to Stephen Whyno of the Associated Press.

Demands from the letter were for the NFL to end the use of all Native American names, imagery and logos, specifically citing Washington's franchise. The Redskins' primary logo, which has been the same since 1972, features a modernized Native American with burgundy and gold feathers.

The Native American groups "expect the NFL to engage in a robust, meaningful reconciliation process with Native American movement leaders, tribes, and organizations to repair the decades of emotional violence and other serious harms this racist team name has caused to Native Peoples," the letter read.

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Last Friday, the Redskins released a team statement that the franchise was undergoing a "thorough review" of its name after public pressure from FedEx, PepsiCo, Bank of America, Nike and other major corporate sponsors called for a change.

Monday's letter comes on a day where many voices commented on a potential name change, including President Donald Trump. Additionally, D.C. Mayor Murial Bowser said Monday that she's pleased with the organization's choice to review its name. Others, such as FS1's Skip Bayless, don't believe the franchise will change its name until it has to.

Outside of coronavirus and the social justice movement in America, the Redskins' name controversy might be the biggest storyline in the United States right now. These comments on Monday are just the latest proof of that.

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Redskins' Dwayne Haskins, Kendall Fuller react to Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes' lucrative extension

Redskins' Dwayne Haskins, Kendall Fuller react to Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes' lucrative extension

Patrick Mahomes sent shockwaves throughout the sports world on Monday afternoon, as the Kansas City Chiefs quarterback agreed to a 10-year mega-extension worth a reported $503 million.

The passer's lucrative and well-earned deal caught the attention of several NFL players, including two Redskins: quarterback Dwayne Haskins and cornerback Kendall Fuller.

Haskins, a quarterback who eventually hopes for a large payday himself, wondered about the language of Mahomes' deal and if his annual salary was tied to the salary cap.

However, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Mahomes' deal is worth $503 million over that span and not tied to the team's annual cap number.

As Schefter mentioned, Mahomes' deal was unprecedented, as it's the richest in sports history. Prior to Mahomes' extension, most of the largest contracts in sports have come from Major League Baseball, a league that has no salary cap. Over the past few seasons, we've seen MLB stars Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Manny Machado and Gerrit Cole ink $300 million-plus deals. 

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So, when Redskins cornerback Kendall Fuller saw Mahomes' new contract, seeing his former teammate ink a deal larger than these MLB stars is what he immediately thought of.

Mahomes has a baseball background himself; his father was a pitcher for Minnesota Twins and a handful of other teams. The quarterback was quite the baseball player himself, too, and was selected in the 2014 MLB Draft. He, of course, didn't sign, but played two seasons of college baseball at Texas Tech before fully focusing on football.

After the contract he signed MOnday, Mahomes can assure himself he made the right decision by sticking with football.

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