Thomas, Kelly: 'Almost Like We're Same Person'
Second-year wide receivers Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly have been linked since the first day of the 2008 draft.
The Redskins selected Thomas and Kelly with two of their three second-round picks (pass-catching tight end Fred Davis also was chosen in that round), and the wideouts' names often were mentioned together during their disappointing rookie seasons.
"You know what's crazy?" Kelly asked the other day. "I don't have a newspaper, and I don't get a newspaper, but every time somebody asks something about me, they never say my name by myself. It's always, 'You and Devin.' It's almost like we're the same person."
As he spoke, I got the sense Kelly was a little irritated that media members tend to evaluate him and Thomas as a package. Some veterans privately criticized Thomas last season for his poor work ethic and lack of maturity. From his first day at Redskins Park, however, Kelly "got it," many in the organization said. Knee problems held him back.
Thomas has exhibited improved focus on an off the field since the 2008 season ended. He began camp slightly ahead of Kelly in the competition to be Washington's starting flanker. Thomas had an early lead in the key position battle, in part, because Kelly spent the offseason recovering from microfracture knee surgery.
Thomas started the preseason opener and had one reception for 12 yards. The sure-handed Kelly had three catches for 25 yards and exhibited the type of fluidity and athleticism that has stirred excitement in the organization about his big-play potential. The race to line up opposite top wideout Santana Moss is on now.
"It was good to just get it going again, and it's really good to get my homeboy, Malcolm, out there," Thomas said. "He was making plays."
Although Thomas and Kelly are competing to start, "it's not like people think," Thomas said. "I want to move the chains and put points on the board. I want to win games, so anybody that's going to do that, then that's what we need. Malcolm's going to do it, I'm going to do it and Fred's going to do it. Anybody that's going to do it, we need out there on the field."
During his rehabilitation after surgery, Kelly focused on areas where he could improve and developed a plan to make it happen, he said. "My route running, that's the biggest thing," Kelly said. "Coach [Jim] Zorn gets on me about my route running, and I know I have a long way to go.
"I can jump up and catch the ball. I can catch the ball wherever it is. But the route running, that's one part of my game I really need work on. That's one thing I'm going to work on in practice every day. Hopefully, with both of us [Kelly and Thomas] working hard, the talk about us will be a little different this year."
Said Thomas: "You need to come up with a nickname for us."
"I didn't say that," Kelly said.
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