The Redskins brain-trust drafted a group of a dozen players that they hoped would lay the foundation for future success.
Some players like Ryan Kerrigan, Jarvis Jenkins and Leonard Hankerson were expected to be impact players in their rookie seasons, but when do things go according to plan in a contact sport?
Jenkins was lost to a season-ending injury in the preseason, delaying his rise to stardom. Hankerson was lost after his breakout game against Miami in Week 10. They were joined by a whole host of players in injured reserve, which opened up playing time and opportunity for late-round draft picks to perform.
Each of the remaining 11 players were active for at least one game during the season, making it one of the most impressive showings for a rookie draft class in franchise history.
Now, CSNWashington’s Jennifer Williams takes a look back at what the Ryan Kerrigan, Roy Helu and Niles Paul would call their top memories of Season 1 in Washington:
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Let me start by saying, I love the difference in frankness between Kerrigan and Paul.
Kerrigan played every down of his rookie season, and understandably has a lot of moments to choose from. He chose good memories with his pair of wins against the eventual Super Bowl Champion Giants, in which he was featured prominently.
Many fans and bloggers would argue that the team’s top play of the year happened in Week 1 against the Giants, when Kerrigan blitzed, tipped and intercepted a pass, and returned it nine yards for a touchdown:
Meanwhile, Paul remembers the game when he became a household name in Redskins Nation, but not necessarily in a good way.
“I would say the Rams game, which is when I got that $20,000 fine. I don’t think I’ll ever forget that.”
I don’t think Austin Pettis ever will either:
Paul has since made light of the situation, signing a commemorative photo of the hit for a fan with a “Niles Paul, 20K, [Ha Ha].” He tweeted back to the lucky fan, “That pic will always have a special place in my wallet“:
On the tail end of the interview, Helu mentioned his top memories as the top scoring plays of the year.
The first one was his final score of the year, when he snagged a long catch and run to paydirt against the Eagles in Week 17. Helu was hobbled with lower leg injuries in the game, and was a weird mix of emotional ecstasy and physical pain as he crossed the goal line.
His second memory was against Seattle, when he busted off a 28-yard run/juke/hurdle/run that ended in his first NFL score. It was awarded as a Top Play for the 2011 NFL season, and ended with Helu talking some uncharacteristic smack:
“I just talked smack to the guy. Because usually that just doesn’t happen. I don’t know”
Good memories all around. Are there any other rookie memories that stick out to you for the 2011 season?