Friday, August 14, 2009
Malcolm Kelly couldn't wait for the Washington Redskins' preseason opener in Baltimore.
Kelly had high expectations as a rookie last season, but his knee wouldn't cooperate. He had microfracture surgery in the offseason and, finally, believes he is ready to become a significant contributor to the Redskins.
"I'm ready to go," Kelly said. "I've just been working to get here. I'm not thinking about last season. I'm not saying anything. I'm just" going to play.
Many in the organization are rooting for Kelly to have a strong preseason. The Redskins, however, are leery of having Kelly play a lot in the preseason and risking a setback with his knee.
Because of Kelly's knee, Coach Jim Zorn might give him many fewer reps early in the preseason than second-year wideout Devin Thomas, Kelly's main competition for the Z-receiver, or flanker, position.
-- HOLMES AIMS TO IMPRESS: It wasn't that long ago Lendy Holmes's success was unquestioned and on display for anyone who paid attention to college football. Playing safety, Holmes was a defensive leader of the Oklahoma Sooners last season, helping the team to the national title game.
Now with the Washington Redskins -- and who knows for how much longer -- Holmes's success hinges on his performance at training camp, where as an undrafted free agent he is trying to crack an established rotation in the secondary. His five interceptions, which led the Sooners, don't carry over to camp, where he is essentially starting over, trying to impress a new set of coaches and teammates.
Still, with cut dates looming, Holmes said he is confident he can stick with the team.
"I'm nervous but at the same time still confident," the 6-foot-1 Holmes said. "I never put in my mind negative stuff. I always think positive."
For his positive thoughts to turn into a spot on the regular season roster, Holmes will need to show he deserves time in a rotation that includes starters LaRon Landry and Chris Horton as well as prove he can be a factor on special teams.
Knowing that, Holmes, who played wide receiver, cornerback and safety in four years at Oklahoma, said there's no time for the kind of messing around that might have been acceptable in college.
"You're out here to work," Holmes said recently at Redskins Park. "You can't just come out here and go through the motions like you can in college. A lot of college guys go through the motions, but out here you gotta work, you gotta show."
-- WACKY BACKGROUNDS: Marko Mitchell is spending his time at Redskins training camp looking forward, trying to lock down a roster spot and elbow his way into a crowded wide receiver picture.
But that didn't stop him last week from lamenting his college team's inability to play beat reserve quarterback Colt Brennan's Hawaii Warriors, a Western Athletic Conference rival.
"They won at the end of the game all the time," said Mitchell, who played at Nevada. "It was always a last-second field goal, so I always joke on him a bit about that."
Brennan, in his second year with the Redskins, carried Hawaii to two close wins -- 41-34 in 2006 and 28-26 in 2007 -- over Mitchell's Wolf Pack.
"It's fun having another WAC guy out there out here," Brennan said. "Obviously, we laugh about some of the big games we played against each other."
Just four players in camp this summer hail from the WAC. Chris Cooley played at Utah State and rookie fullback Eddie Williams was drafted out of Idaho this spring.
"We have some fun with it," Brennan said, "because there aren't too many guys on the WAC from this team."
Mitchell is in competition for the fifth and final wide receiver position. Santana Moss, Thomas, Antwaan Randle El and Kelly are locks, leaving five players battling for the final position. But Mitchell said he has tried to bury that in the back of his mind.
"You can't be nervous, or excited, or whatever," he said. "You just gotta go out there and play. And leave that up to those at the front desk."
-- Jason Reid and Bill Oram