In the fourth round of the 2011 NFL draft, the Washington Redskins drafted running back Roy Helu from the University of Nebraska.
Personally, as an east coast guy, I knew little about the Nebraska product. But after watching highlights and reading up on the speedy back, I grew excited about the prospect of the #29 in the Washington backfield. With tempered expectations of what the rookie back would contribute in 2011, Helu well surpassed them, raising my expectations for both him and the team heading into 2012.
But since the win over the New York Giants last year (in the Meadowlands), Helu has battled nagging injuries, including an Achilles tendon and turf toe, and recently found himself placed on injured reserve only 17 games into his professional career.
I honestly thought it was Helu’s year to put his stamp on the starting running back position for Mike Shanahan. Now, he could be on the “outside looking in” when it comes to his job security and tenure with the Redskins. With Alfred Morris taking the reins at running back and seemingly not letting go, Helu’s security and tenure are definitely in jeopardy.
So, have we seen the last of Roy Helu in the burgundy and gold? At first glance, I thought we may have.
With the recent signing of Ryan Grant and the emergence of Morris, I did not see Helu back with the Redskins in 2013. After looking at the running back situation I figured the group would like this: Morris, fellow 2011 draft pick Evan Royster, and Grant. This could be solid-enough stable of tailbacks who seemingly could get the job done.
But even then, there was something missing. Helu’s skill set is something Shanahan and the Redskins need. Of the three I previously mentioned, none of them offer the pass blocking and ability to catch the ball out of the backfield like Helu.
You could say that i’ve changed my tune a bit, then. With the way offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan uses screens to keep opposing defenses at bay, it makes sense to have #29 around. The Nebraska product’s days as a #1 back may be gone, but his value certainly remains.
What the Redskins will end up doing, only time will tell. But if I had to guess today, I think he stays.