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As A Potential Change Of Pace Back, Robert Kelley Ready For Season


Just like Matt Jones did during his rookie season, the undrafted Robert Kelley will get his fair share of carries as a change of pace back.

While Robert Kelley's performance during the preseason merited a spot on the 53-man roster, the rookie simply couldn't sleep last Friday.

At some point the next morning, just a few hours after a restless night, he'd learn his future with the Redskins. Ultimately, it was that would continue in Washington on the active roster.

"Once I got here and the [coaches] didn't grab me upstairs, I was kind of relieved," Kelley said. "It was kind of unreal, because when they told me 'congratulations, [you've] made the team,' it was like 'I don't know how long I'm going to be here,' and stuff like that, so you just start thinking about some weird stuff."

Kelley was one of three rookie running backs on the Redskins' offseason roster along with Matt Jones, Chris Thompson and Mack Brown.

While Jones and Thompson were surefire selections for the active roster, Kelley had to fight his way past Brown and Keith Marshall on the depth chart.

"I'm not going to say when I first got here I thought I could play with these guys, but as camp went on I felt like I could play with them," Kelley said. "You being able to play with someone is not going to have an effect whether you are going to make the team or not. It's different things that play a role in you making the team, so I always felt comfortable. I just didn't know if I could make the team, just because different circumstances. That was the problem with me."

Jones is expected to be the Redskins' lead back this season with Thompson substituting in on third downs, but Kelley will likely see quite a bit of play during the season.

It was a role Jones served in last year behind Alfred Morris.

"I think you need to have two or three backs to keep them fresh, especially when you have a guy who's proven out here so far what type of vision he has and the power that he has in the hole," Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said. "Time will tell. Monday Night Football's going to be a great challenge for a rookie free agent out of Tulane. We feel like the mentality that he has and how far he's come along from OTAs to training camp, we feel like he's ready. We wouldn't put him in this position if we didn't."

Even though it'll be a nationally televised game on ESPN, and even though he'll be facing one of the better run defenses in the NFL, Kelley's approach to the regular season really won't change.

"The vets are just like, 'Just play the way you've been playing and you'll be alright,'" Kelley said. "They'll try to put no fear in you, try and make you feel uncomfortable about the way you played. If someone plays [well] in the preseason, [you are] are like, 'Nah, the regular season way different than this.' You tear your confidence up. The veterans don't do stuff like that. They just say, 'Keep playing the way you're playing.' They kind of try to build you up."

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