The Washington Redskins made it clear earlier this spring that they believe their receiving corps is in need of an upgrade. They drafted three pass-catchers: Miami’s Leonard Hankerson, Nebraska’s Niles Paul and SMU’s Aldrick Robinson.
One player who could be directly affected by those selections is fourth-year wide receiver Malcolm Kelly, who has yet to live up to the expectations Redskins officials had for him when they drafted him in the second round in 2008.
Kelly was limited by a knee injury to only five games his rookie season. He played in 16 games (with 10 starts) his second season, but recorded only 25 catches for 347 yards and no touchdowns.
Kelly missed all of last season on injured reserve after an offseason hamstring tear was slow to heal. The 2011 season could be a make or break year for him, but Kelly said he doesn’t feel any extra pressure because of the addition of the three rookies.
“They’re always going to be bringing in guys, and those guys are good players,” said Kelly, who attended two of the Redskins players’ three group workout sessions this week. “You’ve got to do your thing. As soon as you start worrying about who they’re bringing in, you might as well get thrown to the wayside.”
Kelly said he is now completely healthy. He displayed good explosion this week. The defense wasn’t as tight as it would be during a normal training camp practice, but Kelly turned in a few impressive catches. Now, if he can do that when coach Mike Shanahan and his assistants are watching, that will be the key, he said.
“For me, the most important thing is getting out there and establishing myself,” said the 6-foot-4, 226 Kelly, who is Washington’s biggest receiver.
The Redskins drafted another big target in the 6-foot-2, 210-pound Hankerson, but Kelly believes he and the Miami product can complement each other.
“I like him. He looks real smooth, reminds me of myself: catches the ball away from his body. I’m happy for him,” Kelly said. “I think we’re going to feed off each other. But first off, I’ve got to compete and get on the field and that’s what I’m looking to do first off, and from there, the rest will take care of itself.”