In a town that loves quarterback controversies, a different backfield position looks to be a bit crowded.
In a 45-41 win over the Chicago Bears, Redskins running back Roy Helu found the end zone three times. Helu serves as the backup to Alfred Morris, but against the Bears, Helu stole the show.
"It’s cool. I don’t want to overlook it, but the greater thing is I contributed in a win," Helu said following the game. "It is amazing and I am very thankful to be back and be contributing, it’s just kind of bittersweet because we still need to fight our way out of this hole we’re in."
After sitting out most of the 2012 season with an Achilles injury, Helu's status was uncertain entering 2013. But through six games for the Skins this season, Helu has provided a great option as the change-of-pace running back, and perhaps showed he's ready for more work.
Over the last three games Helu has produced more than 200 total yards and four touchdowns for the Skins. Against the Bears, Helu ran for 41 yards on 11 carries to go with the three scores. Morris also played well, rushing for 95 yards on 19 carries, but he did not hit the end zone.
"I'm so happy that he got those touchdowns, he deserves them. Roy really works," Morris said. "When he does get in there he goes all out."
Both Morris and Helu dismissed any talk of a controversy at running back.
"Roy deserves to get in there and get reps, he works so hard. Im glad that he gets that," Morris said.
Helu said that he and Morris have a strong relationship.
"Both of us strive to be more complete backs," Helu said. "We encourage each other on the sideline. We don’t know which way the game will go.”
Sunday's game plan dictated that Helu get more playing time, as the team went to its "turbo" offensive package often. In that package, Helu gets much of the work.
"Alfred is our go-to guy. When Im called on, I don’t know when exactly that is, today was different because we ran a different type of tempo," Helu said.
Asked if he had emerged as a better red zone option, Helu explained that was not the case.
"The role in the red zone was unique to the tempo we had with our offense," Helu said. "We had worked down the field with Alfred being in, and it was just like giving him a break."
Redskins coach Mike Shanahan knows he has two very capable running backs.
"Helu is a great change of pace from Alfred because he has great speed and size," the coach said. "You could tell the defense was getting a little bit tired. When Helu got the ball he had not only the speed to break through tackles but to get the ball quickly into the end zone. I was pleased with our 1-2 punch there."
As a team, the Skins gained more than 200 yards on the ground, including 84 yards on 11 carries from quarterback Robert Griffin III. The read option was an effective weapon for the team, and opened up holes in the run game that both Helu and Morris exploited.
Griffin said that Helu brings a bit more speed to the Skins run game, while Morris is more of a power back. Asked what is different about himself than Morris, Helu joked "lighter complexion."
It was all smiles and jokes in the locker room after the game, understandable considering the last-minute nature of the win. But there was more to it for Helu, on-field success after suffering such a serious injury.
"Overcoming adversity is just an amazing thing," he said. "You're just more thankful.”