Rookie Robert Kelley has carried the ball only 17 times this season, but the Redskins are confident in the Tulane product should he have to play more in the event Matt Jones is unable to suit up.
If second-year running back Matt Jones (knee) is unable to play this Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals, the Washington Redskins will turn to rookie Robert Kelley "in the lead role" in the backfield with Chis Thompson complementing him.
Jones did not practice on Wednesday with "some soreness" when he tried to move laterally and make certain cuts. He was, however, able to run straight ahead without any issues.
The Redskins will continue to watch his progress throughout the week, but – depending on the severity of the injury – it could open the door for Kelley to see his most extensive action to date.
So far this season, he's carried the ball 17 times for 103 yards and one receiving touchdown. He tallied a career high in carries (five) against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 6, a performance highlighted by a 45-yard run on a touchdown drive.
Thompson would also see quite a bit of work out of the backfield, as he's carried the ball 21 times for 110 yards over the last two weeks He's also caught 22 passes on the season, providing yet another layer in the passing game.
"You know, Chris has such an important role as far as third downs and his specialty role that we need him in that role and he's not a very big guy," Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said. "We don't want to give him the ball 35 times between the tackles, you know? We'd like to have a more physical guy do that. Chris is going to get plenty of touches without a doubt but if Matt can't go it'll be mainly Chris and obviously Robert."
Thompson's 19 touches against the Detroit Lions were the most he's had in one game since college, and while he was naturally a little sore the next day, the fourth-year Florida State product was happy to have his number called more frequently.
"I felt good with the load," Thompson said. "It was a good feeling."
Gruden feels that that range of touches for Thompson is "a great number for him" regardless of which running back is carrying the brunt of the load.
As for Jones, if he is able to play this weekend, he'll have to ensure that the ball remains tightly in his control after two fumbles last Sunday.
"You can't put the ball on the ground as a running back," Gruden said. "That's just rule No. 1. So, that's something we have to address and look at as a staff. And as far as his confidence, we're more worried about the team success than somebody's confidence. We've got to make sure we protect the ball, and that's everybody. He understands the magnitude of fumbling the football. If he doesn't, he does now"
Tackle Trent Williams also remains confident in Jones despite the difficult outing.
"Everybody goes through those tough times," Williams said. "Peyton Manning threw four picks one time. It's one game. Everyone that's played the game has gone through tough times. I don't really worry about it. To be honest, a lot of people perform better when they're facing adversity and trying to put stuff like that behind them anyway. I look forward to seeing his output when he gets back on the field."