For more than an hour during last Aprils NFL Draft, the Redskins held an unofficial Nebraska Homecoming Party.
Fourth round: Running back Roy Helu.
Fifth round, part 1: Safety DeJon Gomes.
Fifth round, part 2: Receiver Niles Paul.
All played for the Cornhuskers last year and then became Redskins on the same day.
The all theme has continued through the first 13 games. All have gotten valuable game experience, all have shown gradual improvement and all appears to be a part of the Redskins future.
Now we all have a feel for the game, Paul said Wednesday morning at Redskin Park. We know what we have to do and what our strengths and weaknesses are and what we have train to improve on.
Injuries have forced each player into seeing extended action.
Helu, thrust into the starting role when Ryan Torain was unable to keep the job when Tim Hightower was injured, leads all rookie rushers with 582 yards, including three consecutive 100-yard games (a first in Redskins history).
Paul played 12 offensive snaps in the first three games, but earned his way onto the field. Hes played 106 snaps in his last seven games.
Gomes, who played two snaps in the first eight games, made his first NFL start last week in place of the injured and ineffective O.J. Atogwe and had 12 tackles in the second Dallas game.
Because of the lockout, the trio didnt have the off-season to build chemistry with players at their position. When they arrived in northern Virginia for training camp, leaning on each other was the best scenario.
That helped a whole lot, just having them especially when we first came here after the lockout, Helu said. I didnt know hardly anyone but having Gomes as my roommate helped me out because we were homesick.
Off the field during the regular season, Paul said the three dont hang out together all that much, but rather in duos.
All together, not a lot its usually like me and D.J., Roy and D.J. or Roy and me, he said.
So whos the leader of this mini-Nebraska club?
I think everybody plays a role, Paul said. When it comes to Roy, hes definitely the one who motivates us to do this and that and hes the one you go to when you need some good advice.
D.J. is more of the one that I hang out with and we have fun. Roys kind of like the older brother for us.
Paul and Gomes are 22 and Helu turned 23 last week.
Told of Pauls comment, Helu said: Oh, really? I dont know what that means. But thats cool for him to say that.
Told of Pauls comment, Gomes couldnt contain his laughter before saying: Did he really say that? I guess maybe Niles thinks hes the most responsible. Roy has a schedule that he abides by.
Early in the season, that schedule had Helu serving as Hightowers back-up, seeing playing time but only 27 carries through seven games. Since then, 97 carries and the starting position.
Weve given him a little more of an opportunity and we think hes earned it, coach Mike Shanahan said. Hes much more comfortable with what he needs to do, which gives him an opportunity to be successful.
Paul was hitting his stride as a regular rotation player when he sustained a toe injury while playing special teams against San Francisco. Since his return, hes played 20 snaps in two games.
Gomes also had to wait his turn but even on Rob Gronkowskis first touchdown, he had good coverage.
Hell continue to improve on the little things like recognizing tendencies and hell keep playing hard, safety Reed Doughty said.
Even though Helu and Gomes both had Nebraska sweatshirts on before practice Wednesday, they havent taken much time to discuss their rise.
We dont really talk about it too much, Gomes said. Its more so when we talk to other guys in our class. Thats when they bring it up.
THE NEBRASKA THREE
The Redskins used a fourth-round draft choice and two fifth-round choices on Nebraska players last spring running back Roy Helu, safety DeJon Gomes and receiver Niles Paul. As rookies, they have all seen playing time:
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