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In Return, Roy Helu Thankful Achilles Injuries Behind Him

By ZAC BOYER

zboyer@freelancestar.com | @ZacBoyer

LANDOVER, Md. – Despite practicing in limited fashion over the past three days and missing the last two preseason games, Roy Helu played in the Washington Redskins’ 30-3 victory over Tampa Bay on Wednesday.

Helu

The running back had 15 carries for 90 yards and two touchdowns, entering for the first time approximately nine minutes in and leaving late in the third quarter.

“I’m real thankful,” Helu said. “I won’t forget what God did for me through these past three weeks. It’s been very humbling. And to get the opportunity to play out there, especially after that first play, was great.”

The Redskins’ leading rusher a year ago, Helu began sitting out of practice on Aug. 13 with tendinitis in his left Achilles. He then started to feel stiffness in his right Achilles a week later but consistently downplayed the situation, referencing constant tightness in his legs.

His lack of practice time immediately showed as he bobbled the pitch from quarterback Kirk Cousins on his first carry, then dropped it and ended up kicking it out of bounds.

But he began showing his burst in the second quarter, when he took his next carry for 14 yards after juking safety Sean Baker. He then had no problem accelerating and breaking away from defenders on a 15-yard touchdown run with 10:02 left in the third quarter, and added another touchdown on a 6-yard run seven minutes later.

Evan Royster also returned from injury and started at running back for the Redskins, carrying the ball 10 times for 44 yards and a 1-yard touchdown while alternating with Helu during the first half.

Royster missed the Redskins’ victory over Indianapolis on Saturday with stiffness in his right knee but practiced each of the previous two days and was expected to see a few carries to prepare him for the regular season.

“I felt good,” said Royster, who left the game with a sprained neck as a precautionary measure. “I was trying to get my first couple carries downhill and just get a little bit of contact going so I could get into the flow of the game, and I felt good after that.”

Tim Hightower, who made his preseason debut against the Colts, and rookie Alfred Morris, the workhorse through the previous three games, sat against the Buccaneers.

Tristan Davis, the only other running back on the Redskins’ roster, injured his right knee on kickoff coverage not five minutes into the game and did not return. Fullback Dorson Boyce took over as the primary ballcarrier midway through the third quarter and had 10 carries for 44 yards.

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