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Helu Brings Big Play Potential


It looked certain that running back Roy Helu was headed out of bounds.

He had burst through a hole to the left, picking up a first down on a 3rd-and-1 run, and cut toward the Redskins' bench. Then, he was able to stop his momentum inches from the sidelines, keep both feet in bounds, and avoid a Colts tackler.

On Helu went.

He raced downfield for a 51-yard scamper, stopped at the Colts' 23-yard line. He was tackled from behind by Colts safety Melvin Bullitt.

Helu's run set up the second of three Graham Gano field goals in the Redskins' 16-3 win over the Indianapolis Colts on Friday night.

In a crowded running back competition, Helu's elusiveness and ability to stop and cut could give him an edge. He combined with Tim Hightower, who started Friday's game, to rush for 171 yards.

Overall, Helu finished with 14 carries for 101 yards. He also caught four passes for 24 yards.

To hear Helu tell it, he stopped focusing on making reads at the line of scrimmage and instead allowed his athleticism to take over on the field.

"In the first preseason game, I feel like I read too much and that got me in trouble," the Redskins' 2011 fourth-round draft pick said. "This week, it was me just running. I just wanted to let my ability play out and see what happens."

Said Mike Shanahan: "One of the reasons we drafted him is because we thought he had that big-time speed. Now you get a chance to see him in game situations. I thought he showed us a lot, with the 3rd-and-1 and breaking to the outside and turning it upfield. He does have that big play potential."

Helu, who rushed for 1,000 yards each of the last two seasons at Nebraska, feels himself getting more comfortable in the Redskins' offense.

He admitted he needs to improve his conditioning so that he is not caught from behind on long runs again.

"I need to build more endurance and practice better," he said. "I need to finish runs. Other than that, I think I'm taking a lot of steps right now."

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