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Redskins training camp: Healthy Kelly focuses on route-running rather than knee rehab
Wideout Malcolm Kelly (left) is trying to learn the nuances of his position, in order to fool the likes of DeAngelo Hall.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais/ASSOCIATED PRESS
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By RICH CAMPBELL
BY RICH CAMPBELL
ASHBURN--The lasting image of Malcolm Kelly's 2009 preseason debut was a reassuring one the Washington Redskins waited more than year to see. There was their 2008 second-round selection, running full speed across the middle of the field, using his height and athleticism to leap above a defender and snare a high pass for a first down.
A year after the wide receiver's rookie season was sabotaged by a lingering left knee injury that required offseason microfracture surgery, he is beginning to display the abilities the Redskins need to amplify their offensive firepower. The most recent evidence of that was his 13-yard reception from quarterback Todd Collins in the second quarter on Thursday, one of the few bright spots in a 23-0 loss at Baltimore.
"He's probably the only guy on our team that can make that play, with his height and speed," wide receivers coach Stan Hixon said. "That was a big plus, and we expect more of those things."
They need them, too.
Washington drafted Kelly (6-4, 227) 51st overall out of Oklahoma last year as part of a trio of pass catchers expected to give quarterback Jason Campbell more weapons and provide a spark to a lackluster passing attack.
None of the three, though, was productive as a rookie. Wideout Devin Thomas was the best of the bunch, but he spent all season playing catch-up from a preseason hamstring strain. Tight end Fred Davis struggled to grasp the pro game and, as a result, didn't get on the field often enough.
None, however, was a bigger disappointment than Kelly. He flashed some promise at the start of last year's training camp, but his knee injury prevented him from sustaining his development. He had arthroscopic surgery Aug. 4 and was effectively left behind.
He caught three passes in five regular-season contests and was inactive for the other 11 games.
Kelly insists that his offseason surgery helped him move on from last season, and he is backing that up on the field so far. He had three catches for 25 yards against Baltimore, and he has appeared spry in practice. Despite missing a handful of practices with a sore hamstring, his knee is not affecting him.