Red­skins RB Kel­ley get­ting leaner, fo­cuses on de­vel­op­ment.

Kel­ley cleans up diet to el­e­vate run­ning game

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY NORA PRINCIOTTI

ASHBURN | His team­mates still call him “Fat Rob.” but Rob Kel­ley has got­ten leaner since he rose to the Red­skins’ start­ing run­ning back role last sea­son.

By clean­ing up his diet, Kel­ley said he has built mus­cle and lost body fat since last sea­son. He looks stronger and no­tice­ably trim­mer. Now that he has es­tab­lished him­self, the pres­sure to make big plays in prac­tice is lifted and Kel­ley can fo­cus on de­vel­op­ing as a pro.

“This year it’s more like just el­e­vat­ing the game,” Kel­ley said Wed­nes­day af­ter a Red­skins or­ga­nized team ac­tiv­i­ties ses­sion. “Work­ing on small things in the game book to bring to the next level, to be one of those top guys that’s work­ing on dif­fer­ent as­pects.

“Catch­ing the ball, block­ing, work­ing on dif­fer­ent cuts and stuff like that [other] than just ‘I gotta break a big run’ and all this type of stuff.”

Kel­ley rushed for 704 yards and six touch­downs last sea­son, when he started nine games. He is the Red­skins’ in­cum­bent start­ing run­ning back and has prac­ticed that way so far in OTAs, though fourthround draft pick Sa­maje Per­ine has the po­ten­tial to move into a start­ing role in time.

Kel­ley has a good at­ti­tude about com­pe­ti­tion, and he is not nec­es­sar­ily op­posed to split­ting car­ries.

“A lot of our stuff is off play ac­tion, so I think in this of­fense you have to run the ball full-speed and get full-speed car­ries,” Kel­ley said. “So, I mean, if you can’t go full-speed ev­ery play you have to get some­one else in there to do it for you.

“I think it’s good to have some­body com­ing in and the of­fense won’t drop off a step.”

Kel­ley teased Per­ine about need­ing to catch the ball more and said that the run­ning backs room is com­fort­able with com­pe­ti­tion. Kel­ley said he’ll tell Per­ine, Chris Thomp­son or Mack Brown what they can do bet­ter and that they’ll do the same for him.

Kel­ley is no stranger to fight­ing for his touches, any­way.

“I told him to­day, I joked around and said, ‘Last year at this time you were the ninth-string run­ning back for God’s sakes’,” coach Jay Gru­den said. “And now he’s the guy. So it’s ex­cit­ing to see how far he’s come in a short pe­riod of time.

“With that ex­pe­ri­ence comes con­fi­dence and I think he’s more con­fi­dent with ev­ery rep that he takes, with ev­ery path, with ev­ery course that he takes at run­ning back, with his pro­tec­tions, with his routes.”

Gru­den has jok­ingly de­fended Kel­ley by say­ing that ‘Fat Rob’ was only ever a nick­name, but he did say Wed­nes­day that he was glad to see the 24-year-old look­ing fit.

Run­ning backs have short ca­reers, so Kel­ley is wise to pay at­ten­tion to his body even when he may be young enough to get by with­out do­ing so.

Other than fit­ness, Kel­ley said his trust in the Red­skins of­fen­sive line has im­proved over time. He said that should help him avoid neg­a­tive plays this sea­son.

“I think in this of­fense if you stay true to your reads you’ll at least get three, four yards,” Kel­ley said.

Kel­ley said he would love to have fel­low run­ning back Matt Jones in the build­ing and called it “more of a busi­ness thing” that was keep­ing Jones away.

“I’ll leave that to the guys up­stairs,” Kel­ley said.

Jones, who is not at­tend­ing the vol­un­tary work­outs, is the odd man out, seem­ingly be­hind Kel­ley, Per­ine, third-down back Thomp­son and Brown, who also came back to Red­skins Park in great shape this off­sea­son. Keith Marshall is also on the Red­skins ros­ter at run­ning back.

Washington could make space for four run­ning backs on the ros­ter, but the re­al­ity is that, even with­out count­ing Jones, one of those play­ers prob­a­bly won’t make the 53-man ros­ter. The com­pe­ti­tion, how­ever, has re­mained friendly.

“I think it’s best for ev­ery­body to have some type of com­pe­ti­tion go­ing on. Brings the best out of all of us,” Kel­ley said.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Washington Red­skins run­ning back Rob Kel­ley is fo­cused on “catch­ing the ball, block­ing, work­ing on dif­fer­ent cuts,” and break­ing a big run.

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