LOUDOUN COUNTY, Va. – When the Redskins return from their bye this week vs. the Vikings, Washington will look much different.
Undrafted rookie Robert Kelley has unseated Matt Jones as the team’s starting tailback. “Right now Robert Kelley is our first-string running back,” head coach Jay Gruden confirmed Thursday. “When we start the game it’ll be Robert and then we’ll go from there and we’ll decide the rest of the group later on. And then Chris Thompson obviously is penciled in as the third-down guy and No. 2. So after that we’ll make a decision.” That indicates Jones could be inactive Sunday.
If that’s the case, Jones will join Trent Williams as key Redskins unable to contribute. This week, Williams began serving his four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse program. “Trent is in a class by himself at tackle, he really is,” Gruden said when speaking about the significance of losing Williams. According to Pro Football Focus, Williams is the best offensive lineman in the league through the first half of the season.
With Williams out of action and Morgan Moses nursing an ankle injury (he was limited Thursday), Vinston Painter, an alumnus of Norfolk’s Maury High School could see his first action since signing with the Redskins earlier this season. “Right now [Vinston] Painter is our third tackle,” Gruden told reporters. “I think that is the one thing that you’re concerned most about is the depth. You know, we got Painter late in the season. He has limited work with the first-string offense, very limited.”
With a revamped offensive line and backfield, the ‘Skins game against Minnesota Sunday starts a stretch of three games in 11 days. “You hate to make one game more important than the other but these next two games in general are going to be important,” Gruden admitted. “They’re two home games that are very, very big for us. We’re 4-3-1. We’re in a position that we’re in a good position but we’re in a position where we don’t have a lot of room for error.”