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Kelly Earns Starting Assignment


All preseason, Jim Zorn was asked repeatedly about who would start opposite Santana Moss at wide receiver.

He reluctantly revealed the answer on Wednesday, but added a condition.

"If we go with a two wide receiver set, it'll probably be Malcolm Kelly," Zorn said.

Zorn added the qualifier because the Redskins' starting lineup could change depending on his play call and the offense's starting position on the field.

Zorn reiterated that all of the wide receivers--Kelly, Antwaan Randle El and Devin Thomas--would see substantial playing time this season.

The Redskins entered training camp this year with Kelly, Randle El and Thomas competing for the No. 2 wide receiver job.

With Randle El thought to be a good fit for the slot, the competition boiled down to Kelly and Thomas, both second-round draft picks in April 2008.

Asked about Kelly's resurgance, Zorn said: "I just think he has gone all of training camp really improving along the way. His overall explosion on the line of scrimmage has been very good. He is working at trying to be the starting receiver.

"I can't say that everyone just stepped back and watched him go. But we're going to give him the opportunity to be out there and hit it."

It was a lost rookie season for Kelly in 2008 as he struggled with a knee injury. He played in just five games and caught three passes for 18 yards.

After rehabbing his knee last offseason, Kelly started to find his way in Zorn's offense by the second week of training camp.

He started two preseason contests and finished with seven catches for 69 yards.

"This is what we have been waiting for," Zorn said. "What he's doing now, we wish we could have had last year. There are still things he needs to improve on--he's not near any ceiling at all. But I think he has earned the right to get out there."

Zorn praised Thomas as well.

Thomas grabbed seven preseason catches for 67 yards and also returned three kickoffs for a 26.3-yard average.

"I would put Devin in the same situation as Malcolm would call himself, in that Devin is really starting fresh as well," Zorn said. "He showed in preseason that he is somebody that we want to throw the ball to. I can't wait to see him get out on the field."

Will Thomas play a role on kick returns alongside Rock Cartwright?

Replied Zorn: "He'll be involved with kickoff returns, but I don't know when that's going to happen, whether it'll be the first one, or the next one, or even the next game.

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