Roy Helu Jr. set to have big impact in 2015


Nov 30, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Washington Redskins running back Roy Helu Jr. (29) reacts to scoring a touchdown against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The Oakland Raiders came into the offseason knowing that they needed to add talent to their backfield, as the team finished dead last in both rushing yards (1,240) and touchdowns (4) in 2014. In an attempt to improve their running back situation Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie pushed to add veterans Trent Richardson and Roy Helu Jr. via free agency, but the team will soon realize that former sixth-round pick Helu Jr. is much more capable of substantial production in 2015.

The Raiders signed the Helu Jr. to a two-year, $4.1 million contract in early March of this year, and the former Washington back is already beginning to feel like home in Oakland.

“I was pulled here by interest and it wasn’t from a coaching staff who came in to a team I was already on and just kept me because I was part of an experienced group of guys,” said Helu, Jr according to Rebecca Corman of “It was me being a free agent. I could have gone to any team and them showing enough interest where I felt really comfortable to play here. It feels nice to be wanted. Everything has been going great professionally and with family.”

A Bay Area-native, Helu Jr. went to high school in Danville, CA (roughly 20 miles east of Oakland).

In Helu Jr.’s four-year career in the NFL the former University of Nebraska running back has accumulated 2,284 all-purpose yards and 10 touchdowns. He finished the 2014 season with several career highs in the receiving game, as he brought in 47 receptions for 477 yards and two touchdowns. Helu Jr. also managed to earn his highest career yards per carry average in a season, as he rushed for 216 yards on just 40 attempts.

Helu Jr. is very underrated when it comes to almost any are of his game, but the man has received some praise for his ability in the passing game. He has natural, soft hands and can often times turn short passes into long gains with his ability to make people miss in space.

Often described as solely a receiving threat out of the backfield, Helu Jr. has never really been considered as a viable option on the ground, but he still manages to make plays when ever he touches the ball. He is a high effort player that doesn’t stop his feet upon contact, a characteristic that can lead to steady production for a running back if he is given the carries. Although incumbent Latavius Murray is expected to have a majority of the touches, I still expect Helu Jr. to make plays both in the air and on the ground if he is given the opportunity.

NFL analyst/reporter for NFL Network Steve Wyche has a similar opinion, as he believes Helu Jr. is an “ideal third down back.”

“Very good on third down,” Wyche said via “Very good in the passing game, but he is a much better runner. He has some injuries that have knicked him up a little bit, and kind of limited his effectiveness, but watch him in between the tackles, in the open field. He makes things happen.”

Raiders Head Coach Jack Del Rio understands that Helu Jr. can come in and instantly make an impact as a third down back as well as special teams, but he is also willing to let him compete for bigger role this offseason.

“Roy’s a good, solid backup running back, Del Rio said via NFL writer Jerry McDonald. “He played a third-down role in Washington for them and on special teams. We see him coming in and competing in that role and if he creates a bigger role than that, good for him. But we know that we’re getting a young man that is capable of that. He did grow up in the area. He’s excited to be back in the area, he’s excited to have the silver and black on, and we’re excited to have him.”

Unlike his time in Washington, Helu Jr. should be allowed to compete for a substantial amount of touches, as Murray has yet to prove that he can consistently produce at an NFL level and Richardson is possibly several bad games away from losing his spot on the roster.

The opportunity in Oakland most likely played a role in his decision to sign with the Raiders, but he also seems to have fallen in love with offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave.

“When I came to visit back in March, what was really attractive about coming to play here was Coach Musgrave,” Helu Jr. said according to “I should say it’s been more confirming since I’ve been here just how special and unique he is as an OC because he’s very cerebral.”

“This is the most excited I’ve been to play football in the NFL thus far,” Helu, Jr. said.

Helu Jr. has all of the tools to put on and impressive performance in 2015, and his opportunity is finally knocking here in Oakland.