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A slimmed-down Rob Kelley is likely to remain Washington's top running back even though Adrian Peterson is joining the Redskins.
Amid four injuries in their backfield http://www.officialavalanche.com/authentic-adidas-j.t.-compher-jersey , the Redskins signed the 33-year-old four-time All-Pro running back on Monday. But Kelley, the former "Fat Rob" who lost weight and added speed to his repertoire, should still be considered the front-runner to start Week 1 at the Arizona Cardinals.
Washington lost second-round pick Derrius Guice to a season-ending torn ACL, won't have Samaje Perine and Byron Marshall for an extended period of time because of lower-leg injuries and waived undrafted free agent Martez Carter with an injury designation. That necessitated signing Peterson 鈥攁 former standout at Oklahoma who played the majority of his career with the Vikings 鈥?and fellow running back De'Veon Smith, though coach Jay Gruden gave Kelley a vote of confidence on Sunday.
"We're not looking for a starter right now," Gruden said. "We've got Rob in-house, obviously Chris Thompson, Kapri Bibbs has done a good job, Samaje I don't think is going to be very long at all. So we've got four backs right there."
On the first day of camp, Gruden was only sure of one thing: that third-down back Chris Thompson would be on the roster and figure prominently in his return from a broken fibula. Kelley, a 2016 undrafted free agent who emerged as Washington's No. 1 running back during his rookie year and started 2017 on top of the depth chart, cut his hair short Milan Lucic Jersey Kids , added more muscle and looks quicker to Gruden at a svelte 222 pounds.
"It was time for a change," Kelley said of trimming his dreadlocks. "It was like a bold statement showing that I'm ready to change, rather than just coming in and talking about it how much I'm going to change and stuff like that. Just change within and the hair was just like a statement."
Kelley got the first chance with the first-team offense in the Redskins' second preseason game and is trying to focus on showing his best and not the competition for the starting role.
"Early on I thought about it a lot, but now I try not to think about it," Kelley said. "I don't try and put too much on myself that potentially distracts me from actually getting better."
When Guice looked like the starter, Kelley fielded questions about taking snaps at fullback and helping out on special teams. He was willing to do whatever it took to make the team, though the 25-year-old Tulane product didn't rule out winning back the starting job he lost last season because of injuries.
"There's competition whether you think it or not," Kelley said. "I just make sure I go out there and I make a few plays that the catch the coaches' eyes and stuff like that and put myself in a great position."
He's in a great position now by default, though Gruden also said Kelley has had a great training camp. Kelley ran for just 17 yards on seven carries last week against the Jets and the bevvy of injuries created a need to bring in another running back.
"If something else happens, we're going to be really, really, really thin Leonard Floyd Jersey , so we just want to make sure we're covering all our bases right now," Gruden said.
Kelley will have to keep competing to fend off Peterson for a bulk of the carries, but that's a big step up from being on the roster bubble a month ago. More competition is for the best for Kelley, who is no stranger to overcoming odds and winning a competition as an underdog.
"I think the hurdles just make me a better player," Kelley said. "It's the team's job to keep on getting competition, to keep pushing the envelope, so it doesn't make a difference (and I've) still got to work as hard as I can."
— Pittsburgh Steelers rookie quarterback Mason Rudolph exudes confidence heading into his first NFL preseason game Thursday against the Philadelphia Eagles. Rudolph admitted that jitters may be there as the Steelers prepare to face the defending Super Bowl champions in Philadelphia. But the Steelers’ third-round pick has settled into a comfort zone two weeks into training camp.
“It’s just football,” Rudolph said. “I think everyone has a little bit of nerves because it’s going to be the first one back. But just like your debut in college, you get out there, you make a completion and it starts flowing like football has always been.”
Rudolph is in a fight for the backup quarterback spot behind Ben Roethlisberger. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday that Rudolph will see time under center against the Eagles, along with veteran Landry Jones and Josh Dobbs, the Steelers’ fourth-round pick a year ago.
Tomlin is eager to see how Rudolph can direct the offense and maintain possession.
“Mason’s done a really good job http://www.dallascowboysteamonline.com/jamize-olawale-jersey , but he hasn’t been hit,” Tomlin said. “Ball security is much more difficult in-stadium because a training camp environment is controlled in a lot of ways. You don’t touch or get close to the quarterback, so a quarterback’s ability to secure the football doesn’t get tested until they play in-stadium preseason football.”
Rudolph will have an opportunity to show how far he’s come since the Steelers traded up to select the Oklahoma State star with the 76th overall pick, the highest the organization has taken a quarterback since Roethlisberger was the 11th overall selection in 2004.
During spring practices, Rudolph impressed, but he also missed a couple center-quarterback exchanges after working almost exclusively out of the shotgun both in high school and at Oklahoma State.
“We cleaned it up for the most part,” Rudolph said. “I’m just starting to feel a lot more comfortable under center after not doing it the last eight years of my life.”
Rudolph also had an inauspicious start at training camp when he ran a bootleg to the right and fumbled his first pass attempt backward. That gaffe is far from Rudolph’s mind.
“I could (not) care less about the first pass,” Rudolph said. “I have a lot of first passes. I had my first pass in OTAs and rookie minicamp. I’m thinking about the next pass. If one play goes bad, the next play can be the one that wins it, or gets you back in the game.”
Rudolph has found his groove after a rocky first week at camp. The rookie looked comfortable and crisp while running the two-minute offense at the end of a practice last week. Rudolph finished the drill an efficient 5 of 6 for 52 yards, which included a practice-ending 14-yard touchdown pass to rookie running back Jaylen Samuels.
“I just want to progress,” Rudolph said. “You obviously dream about playing in the NFL David Bakhtiari Jersey , but once you get here, you take it one day at a time. I think that’s the way I’ve approached practice and it has gone well.
“I’m just focused on completing passes and making sure I’m taking mental steps forward every day.”
The next step forward for Rudolph will be into a NFL stadium for his preseason debut — against an opposing defense.
“You’re playing your own team every single day and you get frustrated because they start to learn your calls, they’re cheating on your install sheet, printing your stuff out and trying to game plan against you,” Rudolph said. “And then you get out there in a game and it’s easy because those guys are scared, they’re all tight, they want to be in their spots, they don’t want to get yelled at by their coach, and you end up scoring points and driving down the field. That’s the way I feel this will go.”
NOTES: Tomlin said Roethlisberger won’t play Thursday against Philadelphia. . Wide receiver Antonio Brown missed practice again Tuesday, but he worked out alone on an adjoining field. He will miss Thursday’s game along with LBs Bud Dupree and T.J. Watt, and TE Vance McDonald.
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