At least that's what happened the first two times he received the nod. He piled up 41 yards rushing and 105 receiving against the San Francisco 49ers on Nov. 6, but he found himself back at second-string the following week.
Now he's coming off a 162-yard day -- 108 rushing, 54 receiving -- and a leap-the-defender touchdown in a 23-17 victory over the Seattle Seahawks that broke a six-game losing streak.
Coach Mike Shanahan is dealing with uncertainty at many positions as he heads into December with a team that is 4-7, but the running back position looks settled -- for now.
"He's our starter, for sure," Shanahan said Monday.
Helu was part of a day of Redskins resilience. Anthony Armstrong finally caught another pass -- his first in five weeks -- and it was a big one, a 50-yard touchdown grab that gave Washington the lead in the fourth quarter. It was the team's longest completion of the season, and it more than doubled Armstrong's yardage total for 2011.
DeAngelo Hall, who a week ago said he ought to be cut because of the way he was playing, made the game-clinching interception in the final minute. Rex Grossman completed 74.3 percent of his passes for 314 yards, both season highs. A defense that allowed 27 points against the Dallas Cowboys one week earlier clamped down, proving the Redskins still have some pride despite the longest losing stretch in Shanahan's head-coaching career.
"It's tough," Shanahan said. "That's what you're in this game to do, is to win. But at the same time, when you're around a football team that's giving you everything they've got, you feel good. I've been around some teams that have been on losing streaks and you didn't feel like you got the type of effort that you're hoping for.
"That's why I feel good about the character of this football team, and it was nice to find a way to win because they deserved to win. Our players have been working extremely hard, and hopefully we can keep it going."
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press