Eight running backs were selected ahead of Roy Helu in last spring’s NFL Draft. But Helu, the Redskins’ fourth-round selection, has more rushing yards (582) than any other rookie currently on an active roster.
“That’s pretty cool,” Helu said Wednesday in his typically understated way.
Technically, Dallas’ DeMarco Murray is the lone rookie with more yards (897) than Helu, but Murray went on injured reserve this week and is finished for the season.
Helu, the 105th overall pick, has hit the 100-yard mark in three straight games, and Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan says this experience will only help the young running back down the road.
“I think just that experience and him feeling more comfortable with himself, with the National Football League, feeling that he belongs and that he proves that he can play at a very high level,” Shanahan said. “I think you see with his size and his strength that he gets better as the game goes on. He plays with more confidence, he’s got the power and speed to make the big play. ...I think a guy like him is just going to get stronger, better.”
Of course, the entire offense benefits when Helu is able to successfully run the ball. Linebackers and safeties have to account for the Redskins’ tailback, and Washington can take advantage of play-action plays.
“When the running game is going, the play action game always improves,” Shanahan said. “It better improve, because that’s where your big plays usually come. ...We’ve come up with a few more big plays in play action, a little bit more consistency. Hopefully, we can continue to do that.”