Wide receiver Malcolm Kelly didn’t have quite the breakout second year in 2009 that people were hoping for, but he did manage to stay healthy for all sixteen games, catch 25 passes for 347 yards, and save his best play for last — an 84 yard catch-and-run against the Chargers. That may not sound like much, but even 25 catches and 16 games is a marked improvement over the 3 catches in 5 games Kelly had as a rookie.
And maybe that’s a good sign: it’s in the third year that wide receivers legendarily break out, after all. And there are at least two developments so far this offseason that give Kelly some optimism for 2010.
1) His health.
The concern going into last year was with his knees and hamstring, and those are so far presenting no problems at all.
“Everything’s good, man,” Kelly told me. “I didn’t have any problems outta that the whole season. Offseason helped me out a lot ’cause it let me just rest it, but even during the season I never missed any time, never missed any practice or anything like that.”
The he suffered ligament damage to his thumb during the second game of last season, which he was able to play through, but which caused him significant pain for the rest of the season. Now that’s been repaired as well.
“I just come in every day now,” he explained, “rehabbing my thumb, running every day and riding my bike every day. That’s all I really have time to do. I just started catching again, and it’s real stable, real strong. I’m rehabbing and catching and everything feels good. This is probably the best I’ve felt in any offseason, especially leading up to workouts.”
2) His coaches.
Kelly has already talked about how optimistic he is to be working with new offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, who headed up some powerful aerial attacks during his stays in Houston. Since then, though, Kelly’s also had a chance to talk a bit with new position coach Keenan McCardell, and he seems pretty enthusiastic about that as well.
“I’ve talked to him, and it’s crazy,” Kelly said. “You get a guy who has that much NFL experience … it’s one thing for a coach to tell you something, but when you have a guy who played that long and was that successful for a long period of time….”
He trailed off and shook his head, then started again. “Look, he showed me stuff, man, the first day I talked to him. Just stuff where I was messing up during the season and if I would’ve just tweaked it just a little bit, it would’ve made it that much easier on me. “
This reminded me — for fairly obvious reasons — of the reports of McCardell’s success during his very brief time working with Mario Manningham in New York. (In brief, for those of you who don’t want to click the link: Manningham, also a 2008 draft pick, had also underachieved his rookie year. McCardell helped him improve immensely during a coaching internship last offseason.)
So I asked Kelly if he had seen some of the same sorts of insightful coaching advice that were described in New York, and he was emphatic in his response.
“Oh, yeah,” he said. “Yeah. He’s smart, man. He knows. Like I said, he’s played a lot of football. And you don’t just accidentally stay in the league for fifteen, sixteen years. You have to be a talented player. He showed that, and, like I said, just the little things he already showed me on film will make a world of difference.”
Tags: Keenan mccardell, Malcolm Kelly
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