During Mike Shanahan’s press conference on Monday, the coach said that Roy Helu wasn’t quite as effective against the Giants (23 carries, 53 yards, 2.3 yds./carry) as he has been lately in part because of he was dealing with some injuries to a knee and a toe. He is listed as questionable for tomorrow’s game against the Vikings.
Assuming he plays, have to wonder if this will lead to Helu getting a lighter workload over the last two weeks of the season. He has carried 20 or more times in each of the last four games. The last Redskins running back to do that was Clinton Portis, who had 20 or more carries in eight straight games in 2008. The load wore Portis down. Helu, of course, is younger and better able to handle it. On top of that, in two more weeks he will have eight months to rest up before the next game.
Still, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Mike and Kyle Shanahan drop his carries per game to somewhere in the mid to high teens. His load has been quite heavy over the last four games. Helu has carried an average of 24 times per game, which comes to a pace of 384 carries for the year. That would be the most in a season since Larry Johnson had 416 rushing attempts in 2006. Last year, Michael Turner led the NFL with 334 rushing attempts.
Since it would not be wise to continue to hand the ball to Helu 20 or more time a game every week next year, the Redskins could use the last two games to see how they might work Evan Royster into a rotation next year. Or maybe they could even see if they want Ryan Torain to return in 2012.