RB Roy Helu is looking like a super fit for this running scheme. He admittedly missed some cutback lanes, but his ability to diagnose them should sharpen as he builds game experience. The only other gripe: When he gets behind the defense, he should finish in the end zone. Coach Mike Shanahan has touted him as a home-run hitter; getting caught from behind doesn’t fit that description.
Helu at least appears to have the basics of the scheme down — find the lane, make an explosive cut upfield and shake a defender or two.
Staying in the backfield a bit longer, FB Darrel Young is fun to watch as a lead blocker. You can tell he just loves contact. He sealed the edge on RB Tim Hightower’s 1-yard touchdown plunge. He also has some moves in the open field. After breaking three tackles on a catch against Pittsburgh last week, he broke two more on an 11-yard catch that started Washington’s second drive against Indy.
If Mike Shanahan was unsure whether Young could handle first-string fullback responsibilities, he should have a pretty good idea by now.
LT Trent Williams was pretty good in the ground game, but he surrendered two sacks. On the first, he let DE Dwight Freeney get into his body on a bull rush.
On the second, he whiffed on his attempt to cut DE John Chick. “It’s supposed to be a quick-hitting play,” Williams said. “He just read it. He just made a good play. It was a mistake on my part. I could have at least got a piece of him.”
Williams got up slowly after getting his “manhood stepped on” in the first quarter, he said. He insisted that didn’t affect him on the sacks.
We know Williams is talented enough to block anyone in the league, but the measure of his progress from his rookie season to his second year will be consistency. It’s unreasonable to expect perfection from anyone, but his position demands it.
Rookie WR Niles Paul showed some potential as a punt returner working with the second-string special teams unit, averaging almost 10 yards on four returns. His refusal to call for any fair catches despite being in traffic was admirable. You don’t make the team calling for fair catches. He appeared to see lanes well and ultimately prioritized getting upfield instead of running laterally, which he did on his first return.
Paul’s block of an Indy gunner helped spring WR Terrence Austin‘s 29-yard punt return in the first half. I don’t think the Redskins can expect to stash Paul on their practice squad. Some team out there would claim him for its active roster. A Redskins veteran recently said that Paul, a fifth-rounder, has impressed him more as a receiver than third-round WR Leonard Hankerson. He’s worth keeping around, but at whose expense?