Malcolm Kelly: the forgotten man out at Wide Receiver

In the 2008 NFL Draft, one of the reasons that Malcolm Kelly — a productive, 6’4 receiver from the University of Oklahoma, who by all accounts was a great kid — dropped to the second round of the draft was due to issues surrounding his ability to stay healthy and contribute on the football fied.

And so far, it looks like the teams who passed on him for those very reasons were right.

Kelly has missed 11 or more games in two of his past three seasons in the league. He hasn’t played in a game since December of 2009, and over a three year span, he’s accumulated a grand total of 28 catches for 365 yards, with no touchdowns.

As the old saying goes: you can’t teach six-foot-four. Receivers with that size and the ability to run fast and catch well just doesn’t come along that often.

That’s more than likely the reason that Shanahan, after watching Kelly deal with a few nagging injuries leading up to the 2010 season, stashed the receiver on injured reserve for the year. Shanahan probably hoped that with Kelly fully sidelined, he’d work with the training staff to get the injury fixed, rehabilitate, and be ready for 2011.

But true to form, Kelly suffered a foot injury within the first few days of the 2011 lockout-shortened training camp, and hasn’t had a single reptition in any of the team’s preseason games nor even practices to date, despite the original prognosis of the injury stating that he’d be out about seven to ten days.

And after getting a one year reprieve for injuries, it looks like the Redskins coaching staff is ready to move on without Kelly too. The team has to make a decision about it’s final 53 man roster by this Saturday (September 3rd), and head coach Mike Shanahan told the assembled media today that evaluating Kelly’s contention to be on said roster would be “tricky,” considering he has yet to practice or play in 2011, and likely won’t play in Thursday’s preseason finale either.

Again, from all accounts, Kelly is a great kid who simply has an uncanny ability to develop nagging, taking-longer-than-usual-to-heal injuries. He says the right things, doesn’t stir up trouble off the field, and doesn’t criticize the coaching staff. He’s just unbelievably snake-bitten when it comes to injuries.

And it’s almost certain that those injuries are going to cost him a roster spot.

From a mathematical standpoint, there doesn’t seem to be any logical way that Kelly will make the final 53 man roster. Most teams keep five, maybe six receivers at most. Santana Moss, Jabar Gaffney, Anthony Armstrong, and Leonard Hankerson have already locked up the first four spots; that’s a given.

With the work he’s put in during the offseason, the way he’s played in both practices and in game situations, and his ability to play special teams (including returning kicks), Terrance Austin has played himself into that fifth receiver position. It’d be beyond shocking if he does not make the team.

If the Redskins do keep six receivers – something that seems increasingly likely – that last job is up for grabs between Brandon Banks, Niles Paul, and Donte Stallworth. While you could make a case for each of those guys getting that last spot, Banks’ speed and explosiveness kick returns is just something you can’t teach, especially on a team that’s really devoid of true playmakers overall.

Even in the wackiest of scenarios – where the Redskins keep seven receivers (not going to happen) and place Brandon Banks on injured reserve (an idea that’s been floating around due to his injury status; after all, Shanahan did the same thing with Kelly last year) – Paul and Stallworth would be receivers six and seven, ahead of Kelly.

Shanahan also closed the door, today, on stashing Kelly for another year on injured reserve, saying that Kelly’s injury is not something that justified placing him on IR. Translation: he should be practicing (in the coaches eyes), but he’s not practicing, and the coaches have taken notice. And because Kely did practice for the first day or two of camps, he’s not eligible to start the season on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list, either. It’s basically a roster spot for Kelly, or nothing.

As others have said: it’s time for Kelly and the Redskins to both move on. Maybe a change of scenery will help Kelly, especially if the injury bug doesn’t travel with him to his next destination. The Redskins acquired two veteran receivers via free agency & trades this offseason (Gaffney and Stallworth), in addition to the three receivers they took in the draft (Hankerson, Paul, and Aldrick Robinson).

Given that the team already released receiver Devin Thomas last year – the other wide receiver taken by the Redskins, with Kelly, in the 2008 draft – this just seems to be another instance where Shanahan has had to clean up the mistakes of this team’s past, as he rebuilds it in his & George Allen’s mold for the future.


Enjoyed this post?
Subscribe to Redskins Gab via RSS Feed or E-mail and receive daily news updates from us!

Submit to Digg  Stumble This Story  Share on Twitter  Post on Facebook  Post on MySpace  Add to del.icio.us  Bark It Up  Submit to Reddit  Fave on Technorati

One Response to “Malcolm Kelly: the forgotten man out at Wide Receiver”

  1. What has Hankerson done to warrant a roster spot? Paul has a couple good kick returns, but gaffes his routes daily. But they’ll probably both make the roster if 6 guys are carried. For all the talk about Banks being raw as a receiver, he runs far better routes than Paul or Hankerson, and has better hands and is at least as good RAC. Stallworth has been consistently open and made plays, but I think he’s gone. I don’t buy the whole competition thing Shannahan keeps talking about, but if Stallworth, Banks, Austin, Young, Royster, and Williams all make the team, I’ll have to buy it.

    Kelly…maybe they’re hoping if they don’t IR him he can be on standby in case of injury. I think what they’re most disappointed about is probably that all of their big receivers are stinking it up, especially in route running and all of their little guys are lighting it up, even doing a better job of blocking…not the ideal Shannahan picks for his system if you look at his days in Oakland and Denver. Kelly is exactly what Shannahan likes to have, aside from health. I still wouldn’t be surprised to see Kelly on IR, but I think he’ll have to ask for it and he may feel better off with a clean bill of health, slate, and opportunity for a team with an opening at mid season than with a stacked team with WRs all over the practice squad and 6 guys on the roster under team control through at least 2013.