This picture of Malcolm Kelly is one of Redskins photographer Ned Dishman’s in-game shots. Dishman does a heck of a job organizing his pictures, breaking each game down by player, by specific moments, all that … but I still had to really search for this one.
It isn’t Dishman’s fault, it’s just that Kelly caught only three passes last year in his rookie campaign — and this isn’t even one of them, it’s actually from pregame work before the game at Philadelphia.
Kelly’s lack of production was caused by a balky knee issue, and it frustrated a lot of people — fans, media, coaches, other players — but it frustrated Kelly most of all. And since Coach Zorn’s revelation at the scouting combine that Kelly had another knee surgery after the season, I’ve received a whole lot of mail asking exactly how he might be able to contribute –if at all — heading in to next year.
So I sat down with Kelly and asked him, about rehabbing the knee, about staying healthy, about his aspirations for 2009, and about his verbose rookie classmate Devin Thomas.
So we’ve heard a ton about Devin this offseason. He has a blog now, he’s Twittering, he’s meeting with fans, all that. But you’ve been kind of quiet. What have you had going on?
Kelly: “Not much, really. You know, I stayed here the whole offseason just rehabbing. Rehabbing and working out, you know — I start running and stuff like that [today], so I was glad to go ahead and get the surgery out of the way so I don’t have to worry about it no more.”
How’s the knee doing?
Kelly: “It’s doing good, man. Actually, right now, it’s almost stronger than the other one. The quad muscle actually is bigger than the healthy leg, so I’m doing good.”
Are you on schedule, then?
Kelly: “I’m a little bit ahead, actually. Like I said, it’s looking good, so I’ve just gotta make sure. Last year, I really didn’t … since I just had the problem, I really didn’t keep a real maintenance program. This year, I’m gonna keep a maintenance program throughout the whole year, keep it nice and strong.”
And you’re working with the training staff and everyone on that?
Kelly: “Yeah, Larry and Elliot, you know, all those guys. With them, and then [Head of Strength & Conditioning] John Hastings has me do certain stuff, stuff that strengthens it, stuff like that, so I’m on a roll right now.”
So do you expect to be ready to go at hundred percent by preseason?
Kelly: “Oh, yeah. Oh yeah. I’m gonna do the last OTA. During the time of the first OTAs I’ll just be strengthening and running and stuff like that, but the last OTA I’ll get in and hopefully do like I did last OTA and training camp and this time just keep it rolling, man, right into the season.”
From what you learned last training camp, is there something you would do differently this time through?
Kelly: “I think, knowing now that I’d messed up my knee before, I think — like I said — that I’d keep a maintenance program on it. Even when it’s feeling good, even when it’s not hurting, I’ll always strengthen it all throughout the year, so it never gets to a weak point.
“Like I say, your body’s your business now, so anything I can do to take care of my body, you know, I’m gonna do it. I’m actually changing my diet right now and all that kinda stuff, so….”
Oh, yeah? What do you have to cut out?
Is that hard for you?
Kelly: “Yeah, I’ve got a pretty good sweet tooth. So, you know, candy, I don’t eat as many breads, things like that. Eat a lot of protein, fiber, stuff like that.
“Now, last time I did my body comp, I was like six percent body fat, six-and-a-half, so I’ve got pretty good body fat, but any time you can cut down any more just to help the knee out, you wanna do that.”
Right. So you seem to feel more on top of this now than last year. Do you feel like you’re trying to sort of make up for last year?
Kelly: “Yeah, I really do. Just because a lot of the guys on the team, even Jason [Campbell], they saw what I could do just from what I was doing when I was healthy before I got hurt. So he knows that I can do that. I know that I can do that. Coaches know that I can do that. So now it’s just staying healthy the whole time and coming out from the first game, you know, making a big bang. That’s what I plan on doing.”
You and Devin are both talking really confident after disappointing seasons.
Kelly: “I was confident last year. Before I got hurt I was very confident in myself, and, you know….
You were getting good reviews in practice.
Kelly: “Exactly. So that’s what I’m saying: it’s not like I’m saying I couldn’t play, or I wasn’t good enough to be out on the field. It was just a health issue. So once I get that out the way, I have all the confidence in the world that I’ll have a great year.”
All right. Anything else fun going on this offseason?
Kelly: “You know, not really, man. Just went back home for Easter, you know, so anytime I get to go back home, I go back, chill with my parents, my homeboys from back home. So that’s really about it. Every day here, I work out, go eat, I sit at the house and I watch a few Larry Fitzgerald tapes.”
Is he your guy?
Kelly: “Yeah, man. Him and Brandon Marshall, man. I like those two guys. Especially Larry Fitzgerald, because that’s kinda how I play football too: play off the ground.”
Do you think you can take something from his game?
Kelly: “You can see when he goes on the field that he has confidence in himself, and that’s what you have to have, y’know? Like I said, those deep throws — I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed — when he jumps for the ball, DBs aren’t jumping. A lot of DBs don’t jump when receivers do. So if you’ve got a guy who can go up and get the ball, go up and meet the ball, he’s gonna have the upper hand every time.”
Is that a vision thing for him, or a decision on the part of the DB, or…?
Kelly: “Vision and, for Fitzgerald, he has real good hand-eye coordination too. So when he jumps up, he can see the ball in the air and things like that.”
Fair enough. So when are you gonna start your website and Twitter career and all that?
Kelly: “I’m gonna finish the rehab first, wait til, you know, midway through the season after I’ve started doing pretty good and things like that. But right now, this is all business.”
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