Washington Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said he was pleased with the play of rookie Roy Helu in Helu’s first professional start, but the coach declined to say whether the Nebraska product would start next week against Miami.
Helu had a franchise record 14 catches – most of them on dump-off passes from John Beck -- for 105 yards and carried the ball 10 times for 41 yards in Washington’s 19-11 loss to San Francisco.
Meanwhile, third-year veteran Ryan Torain, who had started the previous week, had one carry for two yards and a catch for seven yards.
Shanahan on Monday declared rookie wide receiver Leonard Hankerson a starter for a second straight week, but when asked whether Helu would start, the coach instead talked about how more than one running back must be ready to play.
“We’re trying to give guys an opportunity and, when you give guys an opportunity like Helu this week, [you wonder] how can he run the football? How can he pass protect? How can he run routes? I thought he did a good job,” Shanahan said. “He ran hard [and] obviously caught a lot of passes. I thought he took advantage of an opportunity. But there’s always that situation in a game – you’re not sure how many times you’re going to run the football. So you’ve got to have that one-two punch with these running backs because, if you’re carrying the ball 35-40 times, a lot of times you need that second or third running back.”
Shanahan said he didn’t yet know whether Tashard Choice, whom the team claimed off waivers from Dallas last week, would be ready to play Sunday.
Choice, who was limited by a hamstring injury last week said he was targeting the game at Miami as his Redskins’ debut. But Shanahan said the back hasn’t been evaluated since last week.
“I really don’t know,” Shanahan said. “He feels pretty good right now. We’ll get a feel what he can do on Wednesday, but right now, it looks like we’re pretty optimistic that he can practice. Now, we’ll evaluate him and see how he fits into the system and how much he knows.”