After piecing together a strong preseason performance including work with the first-team offense, Robert Kelley now awaits word of his future in Washington.
Robert Kelley can't even live out his dream in the virtual world.
"I'm not even on Madden," he lamented. "That's what happens when you're an undrafted free agent, but it's all good. Hopefully, I'll be on there one day."
Kelley is right. The people at EA Sports aren't disrespecting him purposely. None of the undrafted free agents in NFL camps are in the original release of the game, which became available to the public two weeks ago.
Luckily for Kelley, he's close to making his dream of playing in the NFL – and being in Madden – a reality. The talented rookie has had an impressive preseason and has a good shot at seeing his name on the Redskins 53-man roster when it is announced Saturday.
"I think I'll sweat it out 'till it happens," Kelley said. "You can never be sure. At the end of the day, it's still a business, so you never know what's going on upstairs. But I think I did pretty well, but I'm not going to run with it until it happens."
Kelley was Washington's most consistent running back in this preseason, finishing with 198 yards and a touchdown on 38 carries – good for an average of 5.2 yards per carry.
In the preseason finale at Tampa Bay, Kelley finished with 99 yards on 16 carries. He and fellow running back Mack Brown (19 carries, 149 yards) combined for 248 yards in the 20-13 win over the Buccaneers. Kelley said he was going to ask Brown to borrow a yard so they both could hit the century mark.
"I think we had a nice little one-two punch; I think we both did real well," Kelley said. "I've got to break me one. Every time one of those guys break a long run, I've got to get me one. Even if it's Chris (Thompson), Matt Jones, Keith (Marshall), anybody, I've got to get one after they get theirs."
Speaking of those other running backs, health is a concern with the Redskins' backfield right now.
The starter, Jones, is expected to be ready for the Sept. 12 opener against Pittsburgh, but did not play in the final two preseason games after suffering a shoulder injury in Week 2 of the preseason against the Jets. Thompson also missed the final two preseason games with lingering injuries while Marshall was placed on Injured Reserve after injuring his elbow against the Bills in Week 3 of the preseason.
That opens the door for Kelley to potentially have an important role against Pittsburgh on Monday Night Football in Week 1 if he makes – and sticks – on the 53-man roster.
"Once you start getting those carries and you realize what you can do and what you can't do," Kelley said after Wednesday's game in Tampa Bay. "I think I showed that tonight, getting those carries and running the inside and not trying to bounce and everything and stuff like that."
Kelley's abilities haven't gone unnoticed. Earlier in this preseason when Jones initially injured his shoulder, the Florida product noted that Kelley was "doing a great job."
"Everybody around here is doing a good job as a running back," Jones said at the time. "I really like what Kelley is doing right now as he's taking the reps."
Like many others around the NFL, Jones will be anxiously awaiting word this weekend that he's made the roster. Until then, he'll be "playing Madden or something like that," to pass the time. Of course he won't be able to play as himself, but the day that he can may be right around the corner.