The Redskins’ 2011 training camp is underway, and one practice has already come and gone.
Fourth-year wide receiver Malcolm Kelly, one of a dozen pass-catchers the Redskins will have have compete for roster spots at Redskins Park in the coming weeks, emerged from the season’s first practice fully healthy.
That wasn’t the case in 2010, when Kelly suffered an opening-day hamstring injury that eventually cost him his season.
“That was last year,” Kelly said about missing the entire year despite his injury healing part of the way through the season. “I shouldn’t have come out here anyway last year, on the first day.”
But Kelly did try to practice and after aggravating a barking hamstring ailment he was sidelined for the remainder of the preseason. The Oklahoma-product was eventually placed on the Injured Reserve list, keeping him on Washington’s roster but ending any chance he had to play in 2010.
“This year I’m completely healthy and in a little bit better shape, Kelly said. The 2008 2nd-round pick has played in 21 games, making just 10 starts, in three NFL seasons.
The 6-foot-4, 24 year-old has made just 28 receptions and has yet to score a touchdown.
With Santana Moss having been re-signed and Anthony Armstrong returning for his second season with the Redskins, Kelly’s in need of a breakout preseason.
Jabar Gaffney, coming off a season where he set career highs for receptions and yards, was acquired in a trade on Wednesday and is expected to be on the Redskins roster when they open the season.
Washington also drafted three wide-outs, most notably Leonard Hankerson out of the University of Miami in the third round. The trio of first-year players will all be battling for roster spots. The same can be said about recently-signed veteran Donte Stallworth.
Considering that there are several more receivers than there will be spots on the Redskins’ depth chart, Kelly’s stint with the Redskins has reached a now-or-never phase.
“Any time you bring guys in you have to compete and it’s all about competition,” Kelly said about being a member of a suddenly crowded positional battle. “If you’re not a competitor you’re going to lay down. It’s survival of the fittest. Whoever wants it is who’s going to be here. We’ve got four weeks to see who that is.”