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2016 Redskins Season In Review: Running Backs

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Beginning the year as one of the Redskins' undrafted players at the position, Robert Kelley not only earned a spot on the active roster but eventually earned the starting role.


As the Redskins head into the offseason following back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since 1991-92, Redskins.com will provide position-by-position reflections from the 2016 squad.

Up next: running backs.

Review Of The Unit
The Washington Redskins began the 2016 season with high hopes for second-year running back Matt Jones, but by midseason undrafted rookie Robert Kelley had become the team's lead running back.

Kelley had a few moments as the team's No. 3 running back through the first seven weeks of the season, including a 45-yard run against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 6. Kelley would then earn a spot start against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 8 that turned into a full-time role in the starting lineup.

The Tulane product's best performance of the season came in Washington's 42-24 Week 10 victory over the Green Bay Packers when he carried the ball 24 times for 137 yards and three touchdowns.

Kelley would score two more touchdowns on the season including an impressive 15-yard run against the Eagles in Week 14.

He would finish the season with 704 rushing yards and seven touchdowns (six rushing, one receiving).

Chris Thompson, meanwhile, rushed for 356 yards and three touchdowns along with catching 49 passes for 349 yards and two touchdowns.

Thompson collected his first career rushing touchdown in the season opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

In Week 15 against the Chicago Bears, Thompson became the first member of the Redskins to score a rushing touchdown and a receiving touchdown in the same quarter since Kelvin Bryant in the second quarter at Dallas on Oct. 9, 1998, when he scored twice in the first quarter.

In that game, first-year running back Mack Brown saw his first NFL regular season on offense and made the most of it as he capped off a big victory for Washington with a 61-yard touchdown.  

Back to Jones for a minute. While the 2015 third-round pick was inactive for Washington's final nine games of the season, he did have some successful moments when he was in the lineup.

Twice the University of Florida product rushed for at least 100 yards in a game and averaged 4.6 yards per carry on his 99 rush attempts.

What's Next For The Group
Redskins head coach Jay Gruden believes that Kelley will continue to be the Redskins' featured back going into the 2017 season.

Take a look back at the top images of the Washington Redskins' running backs from the 2016 season.

"He's going to get stronger, even get in more better shape," Gruden said. "He's going to understand the 16-game season, what it entails, how demanding it is on his body. He's going to get himself ready to go. But he's shown great vision, great toughness in the hole, great ball security. I think that's a good starting point."

Gruden added that Jones will come back during offseason workouts and training camp with the opportunity to compete and potentially earn back a role on the offense.

"You know, we have depth charts. But, like I said, they're all written in pencil," Gruden said. "We have an eraser. We can erase it and change it. If he comes out and outperforms [Kelley], it'll be his job. But he's got to work at it and prove to us that he's the guy for the job."

Thompson, meanwhile, is set to become a restricted free agent, but the third-year is hoping to return off his best season to date.

Not only was he able to stay healthy for the entire season, he established himself as one of the best pass-catching running backs in the league.

"I made some plays, but I want to make more," Thompson said. "I want to double my yardage and my touchdowns. So, I see where I have come from and where I am now. I'm just focused on continuing to get better."

Brown is also under contract for the 2017 season.

2016 Redskins Season In Review:

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