Raiders Running Back Roy Helu, Jr. Eager To Get Back In The Mix

During his first four years in the NFL, Roy Helu, Jr., has made his living primarily as a third-down option on offense, but he doesn't see that role as what defines him as a player.

This season, he is optimistic he can be far more than that.

"I think most everybody's desire as a running back is to get involved in rhythm, because that's such a big part of the running back position," said Helu Wednesday. "At the same time, the last couple of years I've been in the NFL I was designated that role, so whatever role I'm playing, and whatever that looks like, I'm just going to do my best at it."

After not practicing for nearly all of Training Camp 2015 and missing the Oakland Raiders' first two games of the preseason, Helu was back on the field with his teammates Wednesday and addressed his return following the day's work.

"It was great," Helu said when asked about being back on the field. "I'm pretty grateful to be out there and starting to work up my capacity to carry the ball and do a little more stuff there. Today was my second practice [and] it went well."

Although Helu is just 26 years old, he is the elder statesman of a young running backs group, and quarterback Derek Carr spoke about the importance of his return to the mix.

"He's very smart, so he's going to be great in protection," Carr said. "He has a good feel in the screen game. There's a lot of things that he does really well, and that's all outside of him running the ball, which he's obviously very good at, which he did great at Nebraska and has done good in the NFL."

While he believes that he can be more than just a third down running back, Head Coach Jack Del Rio made it clear, that as of now, Helu has to prove he deserves more run with the Raiders offense after missing so much time.

"Right now, he's got to create a role," Head Coach Del Rio said. "Right now, he's been on the shelf and been unable to do anything for us. Yeah, the designs when we brought him in here in the spring and all was to let him compete for anything it might become. At this point, he's got to try and find a way to compete to show us that he belongs here and then create a role for himself."

What that role will end up is yet to be determined, but Helu's return to the field provides a benefit to the Silver and Black in a multitude of ways.

Not only does the dynamic back have the ability to run the ball, as well as field passes out of the backfield, but he also adds another body in the continued battle to be Latavius Murray's backup in 2015.

Since Murray has cemented himself as the feature back in Oakland, Trent Richardson, Michael Dyer, and even Taiwan Jones have taken snaps in the backfield, without one player clearly pulling ahead in the competition through two preseason games.

Helu will get his first chance to join his teammates in a game setting Sunday night when the Raiders take on the Arizona Cardinals, and after several on the shelf, a game can't come soon enough for the former Nebraska Cornhusker.

"Oh yeah, there was a sense of urgency for sure," Helu said. "I was aware of how much time I had, but at the same time, I didn't rush to come back and I'm fully healthy now so it kind of worked itself out."

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