Derrius Guice was expected to be entering his second season for the Washington Redskins after having a solid rookie outing in the NFL. Unfortunately for Guice and the Redskins, the second-year player missed his entire rookie campaign with a torn ACL injury that happened in the first preseason game last year in New England.
Now as Guice joins an impressive running back room led by future Hall of Fame lock, and current starter, Adrian Peterson, as well as the multi-faceted Thompson, expectations are high again for the Baton Rouge, Louisiana native.
Those expectations have to be tailored, however, because there is almost a reset for Guice as to his play on the field. The power and elusiveness that he effortlessly ran with before his injury will have to be proven again on a consistent basis.
While speaking to the media before a recent training camp practice, coach Jay Gruden spoke about the plan for Guice and getting him back to the form that had just about every draft scout rating him as a top back coming out college.
“Yeah, our goal is… he only had what 10 carries in the preseason so we don’t know who he was,” Gruden said. “We know that he had a great college career at LSU and his sophomore year was incredible. His junior year he had over 1,000 yards. In training camp, I think the one thing that he showed us that we really didn’t know about at LSU is his ability to catch the ball and that is something we are going to continue to work on and see if this is something that we can put a roll in for him out in the backfield as well similar to Chris [Thompson]. Our goal is to get him ready for Week 1. His job is to make sure his body is right and the trainer job, strength and conditioning coaches, that is their job. I have seen no reason to believe that he won’t get to where he was as a sophomore in college.”
The Redskins will have to be patient but diligent in getting Guice back to where he can make an imprint on the field. All signs after nine days of training camp practices are that the young back is doing well and his runs have been precise and without indecision. Those are all signs that the second-year for Guice could be special.
“Derrius is doing good,” Gruden would after several training camp practices from Richmond, Virginia. “You know we’ve increased his workload a little bit on a daily basis and he’s handled it pretty well. Now it’s just a matter of handling the reps and making sure he gets enough, but also not overloading him coming off that injury. But, I’ve been impressed with Derrius both in the passing game and the running game.
“I think he feels good – he looks good,” Gruden explained. “The other day he caught a rail route down the sideline and ran 80 yards and the next play he ran an outside zone and ran about 50 yards, next play he picked up a blitz in pass protection. I think he’s showing flashes of being good in all phases – cutting – obviously we can’t see the power which is his strength. I’ve been impressed with him.”
Guice, 22, has said that last year was the most trying time of his life but that he’s proven to himself that he’s mentally tough and has the resolve and fortitude needed to be successful. e’s excited to be back out on the field with his teammates and live out his lifelong dream of playing in the NFL.
An engaging and positive person, Redskins Nation instantly became fans of Guice last year and want nothing more than to see the first player in SEC history with three career games of at least 250 rushing yards to do well this year.
Gruden loves the energy and passion that Guice brings to the field and hopes it’s contagious to his teammates who are coming back from injuries as well.
“Derrius has great energy for sure,” Gruden said. “He’s always bouncing around. Love his energy, passion for the game. You know, we were excited about that last year, it got cut short, but I think he’s been great as far as rehab is concerned. We’re hoping the other guys take suit. You know Cam Sims was great in rehab. A lot of guys have done that. We’re hoping Reuben Foster is great in the rehab process and can still continue to be a part of this football team – Alex Smith. So anytime you lose a player – their passion or energy for the game, it hurts a little bit, but we’re also excited to see them come back and watch what they can do based on all the hard work they put in to get to where they need to be.”
If Guice does return to form, the Redskins running back unit could be one of the NFL’s most versatile and certainly deepest position groups.