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Why coming to OTAs slimmer was a goal for Gibson in 2022

The Washington Commanders have added a new face to their backfield in Brian Robinson, and it's going to change some parts of Antonio Gibson’s role in the offense.

The hope, according to coach Ron Rivera, is to create a strong tandem between Robinson and Gibson. While Robinson can be the downhill, physical back between the tackles, Gibson can be more of the "slasher" player and use his versatility more often.

Gibson is willing to fill whatever role the coaches ask of him, but it does help that he has dropped some weight in preparation for his third season.

"Just get some of that twitch back, that quickness and also prevent injuries in the long run," Gibson told Julie Donaldson in a 1-on-1 segment of "Command Center."

Gibson, a third-round pick by Washington in 2020, has always been a speedy player with his 4.39 40-yard dash at the Scouting Combine. That's part of why Rivera and Scott Turner felt so comfortable moving him from wide receiver to running back.

He did feel like he was losing some of that during his second season, though, and he wanted to keep that part of his skill set sharp. The drop in pounds should also help keep Gibson healthy; he has only missed three games in his career, but in his mind, the extra precautions can't hurt.

"Why not just lose it and make sure I'm the best me?" Gibson said.

That sentiment is exactly why Rivera wants to put Gibson in situations where he doesn't need to pound through the line of scrimmage on more physical downs. For the most part, those responsibilities in the committee will go to Robinson, who had success with that style at Alabama.

Then, Gibson can come in and use his athleticism to gash defenses for bigger gains.

"Now you feel like you have a combination of running backs that on your first and second down are very physical at one point," Rivera said. "Then we turn around, you got a little bit of a slasher with Antonio's style. But Antonio's got some deceptive speed and quickness as well, so it's a good mix."

The Washington Commanders resumed their work on the practice field in Week 2 of Phase 3. Check out the top photos from Tuesday's OTA. (Emilee Fails/Washington Commanders)

Most of Gibson's biggest plays have come when he's operating outside the tackles. As a pass-catcher, for example, he's had two receptions result in at least 40-yard gains, one of which was a screen pass against the Buffalo Bills in Week 3 that he turned into a 73-yard touchdown.

Rivera made the point after the Commanders drafted Robinson that it's "an awful lot to ask" of Gibson to be the primary physical back and use his versatility. The smaller frame should allow him to thrive in a role that relies on his athleticism.

As for what that role is going to entail, Gibson will leave that up to his coaches.

"Wherever I can help out, that's what I'm gonna do," Gibson said.

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