No doubt you, and the Redskins themselves, will watch Helu on TV replays as he stiff-arms Patriot tacklers or makes them miss, staggers and stumbles for extra yards or bursts through a hole for 15 yards in a blink. But Helu probably won’t, because he probably can’t.
“I don’t think Helu even has a television. He didn’t get a computer until very late, if he even has Internet access,” said linebacker London Fletcher, chuckling approvingly. “It seems like he never leaves the facility [Redskins Park]. That’s rare for a young man. I appreciate the way he takes care of his body first and stays on top of his job before anything else.
“Sometimes you feel like saying: ‘Get away, man. Go home,’ ” Fletcher said. “But the vet doesn’t actually say it. “We are relying on him a lot.”
The Redskins, especially the younger ones who are still deciding who they are as pro athletes and as aspiring adults, won’t be hurt one bit by taking a long look at Helu, the unheralded one. It wouldn’t kill Trent Williams and Fred Davis to peek while they serve their three-time-loser suspensions.
And Helu isn’t just worth perusal because he’s now the first Redskins rookie to rush for 100 yards in three straight games — that’s 126 yards against the Patriots on top of 100 and 108 in his previous two games. Though he’s only started four NFL games, he already has five stellar days when his yards from scrimmage — rushing and receiving — were 112, 146, 162, 142 and now 132 yards.
That’s announcing your entrance. Except Helu would never do such a thing. He’s the last to dress, the least likely to talk about himself. There’s a big, old, well-worn brown book tossed in his game bag. Might be a Bible.
“This game was really vice versa — like a gift from the offensive line,” Helu said. “We were missing people. Jammal Brown went down before the game. But the holes they opened were huge. I missed a lot of them.”
Actually, Helu did miss some holes, including a big one on the goal line. Blocking in pass protection has reduced him to prayer, though he’s gotten much better. Except for one spectacular 28-yard touchdown run in Seattle when he hurdled a tackler, then scored without breaking stride, he’s showed speed but hasn’t translated it into long runs. Yet he’s averaging an elite 4.7 yards without any single run longer than that 28-yarder.
“He’s pretty solid already,” eight-year veteran tackle Sean Locklear said. “He keeps getting better reading blocks. He can get you 15, 20, 30 yards. Is he going to take one 80 yards? That’s still to be determined.”