“Any backup spot is all the value of special teams,” Kelly said. “If you’re going to be a backup player here, you’re going to be on teams.”
That sounds reasonable, but quite a few heads turned when some of the final cuts were made. Today Kelly was asked whether he gave consideration to players who played for him in Oregon.
“It’s about special teams,” Kelly said. “There’s three ways to make this football team: special teams, special teams, special teams. …If you’re going to be the fourth or fifth receiver, it’s the value to Coach Fipp and our special teams.”
Middle linebacker Casey Matthews is a former Oregon Duck and he was kept on the roster over what seemed to be more productive preseason linebackers Emmanuelle Acho and Chris McCoy. Former Oregon wide receiver Jeff Maehl was kept on the 53-man roster instead of two wide receivers who seemed to be more productive, Russell Shepard and Greg Salas.
I know Kelly says keeping Matthews and Maehl had nothing to do with the fact that they played at Oregon, but I can’t agree with that. I don’t think Kellyt has to apologize for making his decisions, but coaches never forget players that they win with. Just about every coach I’ve ever seen tries to hang onto players that they won with and Kelly is no different.