Heading into his first NFL regular season game, the Washington Redskins are ready to lean on Derrius Guice as their lead back.
After a torn ACL wiped out his entire rookie season, Derrius Guice saw his first NFL game action in the Redskins’ third preseason game and ran well (11 carries for 44 yards). That was apparently enough for head coach Jay Gruden, as he told reporters on Monday the offense “carries-wise” will probably go through Guice.
Guice’s absence last year opened the door for Adrian Peterson to re-emerge, as he topped 1,000 yards on the ground again (1,042) and averaged a solid 4.2 yards per carry. The future Hall of Famer did not take well to the idea of a complementary role with the New Orleans Saints in 2017, so it’s unclear how that might sit with him now as Gruden professes faith in Guice.
Chris Thompson’s role as Washington’s primary passing down back is surely not going away. But Guice was not used a pass catcher much in college at LSU, and the Redskins surely would like to find out if he has something to offer in that area.
The Redskins’ offensive line has taken a huge hit, with no sign of when or if the ongoing absence of left tackle Trent Williams will end. Donald Penn is currently set to replace him in the lineup, with former first-round bust Ereck Flowers earning the starting job at left guard. So whoever is carrying the ball is sure to have a hard time finding room to run, but Guice probably has the best chance if he’s healthy.
Case Keenum is going into the season as the starter under center, with rookie Dwayne Haskins likely to step in at some point and a wide receiver depth chart that’s talent bare. So the Redskins are sure to lean on the ground game plenty. Whether weekly game scripts will allow that is a different question, but using clock and limiting possessions will have to be a priority.
Guice and Peterson could easily wind up splitting carries equally this year, for better or worse. But if the second-year man is up to it, he should be the centerpiece of a Washington offense that has to minimize a talent deficit.