As part of our Redskins 2020 Offseason Update presented by Bud Light Seltzer, we're focusing on running back J.D. McKissic in our Player Spotlight feature brought to you by our friends at Acronis.
What a difference a few months has made for Washington running back J.D. McKissic.
When he first spoke to the local media April 1, he barely knew his coaches and teammates and had nowhere to train because of the COVID-19 pandemic. With his gym shut down, he planned to run hills and do workouts around his neighborhood in Alabama to stay in shape.
Nowadays, McKissic has a much better feel for both his new team and his physical health. Not only was he an active participant in the Redskins' virtual offseason program, which spanned from April 20 to June 12, but he was also able to get into Impact Performance RX in Columbus, Georgia, to train.
"The guy who owns the facility...he gave us the key," McKissic said in mid-June, "and I was able to go in mornings, nights when guys weren't there and put my own work in until things opened back up. So, I really didn't have a shutdown at all."
Having learned a new offense and trained without much interruption, McKissic is ready to showcase his unique skillset during training camp.
"The only thing is we don't get a chance to go through those plays with the coaches on the field and the grass and get that type of coaching," McKissic said. "But as far as coaching and learning the offense, I think that helped in a major way."
McKissic is used to learning multiple roles within a variety of offenses. Since entering the NFL as an undrafted free agent in 2016, the college receiver-turned running back played for three teams before signing with the Redskins as a free agent in March. He's been used as both a rusher and a pass-catcher, totaling 88 rushing attempts compared to 70 receptions over his first four seasons.
McKissic admitted virtual learning is not for everyone, but he was pleased with what he got out of the sessions, which lasted two hours for four days per week. Without having to worry about lifting, conditioning or on-field workouts at Redskins Park, McKissic locked in on taking copious and detailed notes during each offensive and special teams meeting.
McKissic also said it helped to have a passionate and comprehensive teacher like running backs coach Randy Jordan.
"I know that being [at the facility] is great for us to be on the field and go through footwork cutting, just working on the grass," McKissic said. "But I think [Coach Jordan] took advantage of the virtual meetings as well to have what he's going to go over ready and really just harp on that and go over that for two hours, an hour and a half. It got stuck in our minds, and we were able to keep watching it over and over and over and just learning the offense."
McKissic does not know his role will be, but he's excited to compete with "a legend" in Adrian Peterson, "a young guy that's hungry" in Derrius Guice and the rest of what he called a "passionate running backs room." And when he and his teammates do return to the field, McKissic is looking forward to showcasing why the Redskins signed him in the first place.
"I just want the coaches and everybody to see how I can move, how I run my routes, how good of a receiver that I really am -- a lot of people don't know that. And that's the only thing really."