Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden has full faith in second-year running back Derrius Guice, so fantasy football owners should too.
Gruden was discussing his team’s decision to move on from backup running back Samaje Perine at Monday’s news conference when he dropped an interesting nugget about Guice, who was presumed to be the team’s starter last season before he tore his ACL in the preseason.
“It’s not so much about Semaje as it is about Derrius Guice and how much faith we have in him,” Gruden said. “We drafted him because we feel he can be a first, second and third-down back if needed. The offense, carries-wise, will go through him pretty much.”
Guice’s health has been a key focus during Washington’s camp. He made one appearance during the team’s third preseason game and picked up 44 yards on 11 carries. More important than the statistics, he looked healthy with impressive change-of-direction moves.
That Washington sees Guice as its running back of the future is not surprising, but a commitment to feature him from the start of the regular season is a big step.
After Guice tore his ACL, Washington brought in Adrian Peterson, who had a his first 1,000-yard season in three years at age 33. The Redskins liked him enough to bring him back on a two-year deal in March, but now it appears it will be purely in a reserve role. Washington also has to balance carries for Chris Thompson, who is a quality third-down back.
Guice may be unproven in the NFL, but he looked like a bona fide star at LSU. He rushed for 2,638 on and 26 touchdowns during his sophomore and junior seasons and twice earned all-conference honors. Now he’ll get his chance to shine in the pros.
Washington kicks off its season with three straight tough opponents — the Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas Cowboys and Chicago Bears — all of whom ranked among the seven best run defenses last year. The team’s schedule should ease up for Guice and Co. with the New York Giants in Week 4.
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