With the NFL Draft completed, Redskins.com is breaking down the team's roster as it prepares for the 2020 campaign. Here are the positions that have been covered so far:
Next up are the running backs. Adrian Peterson and Derrius Guice are both back, but the team has also added two new players in J.D. McKissic and Peyton Barber via free agency. Bryce Love is also back and still recovering from a torn ACL he suffered at Stanford in 2018, but he is expected to be ready for the 2020 season. Josh Ferguson is also returning after limited action with the Redskins in 2019.
In addition to the six veterans on the roster, the Redskins also selected Memphis' Antonio Gibson in the third round of the NFL Draft. Gibson played both running back and wide receiver in two years with the Tigers, but the Redskins drafted him to be used out of the backfield.
- Chris Thompson
- Wendell Smallwood
- J.D. McKissic
- Peyton Barber
- Antonio Gibson
Offensive coordinator Scott Turner is bringing a new system to the Redskins, and the team's running backs are going to be used in more creative ways.
In four games as the Carolina Panthers' play-caller in 2019, Turner moved Christian McCaffrey around as a running back and receiver, and many of the Redskins' offseason acquisitions indicate Turner will have that same approach with the position in Washington. McKissic has 917 total yards (515 receiving and 402 rushing) in his NFL career, while Gibson amassed 735 receiving yards and 369 rushing yards during his senior season with the Tigers.
The Redskins are confident the players who were already on their roster could fill that role as well. Vice president of player personnel Kyle Smith even said at the NFL Scouting Combine that he could see Guice filling a similar role as McCaffrey.
"[He] has an opportunity," Smith said. "He can do all of those things. He's got hands. He's good in the pass protection game. You...know him as a runner."
Meanwhile, head coach Ron Rivera said he sees similarities between Gibson and the former eighth overall pick.
"He's a little bit bigger than Christian, but he's got a skill set like Christian," Rivera said. "This is a very versatile, young football player that we really think is going to be a guy that can get on the field for us early and contribute."
The Redskins also exercised their club option on Peterson's contract, ensuring he will be with the team for the 2020 season. He and Guice may spearhead the rushing attack with the remainder of the position group rotating in as complimentary pieces.
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There are currently seven players designated as running backs on the Redskins' roster, and all of them will by vying for playing time during training camp. Based on last year's production, it seems as though Peterson and Guice will be the top rushing candidates, but any of the remaining players could also carve out significant roles.
There are still a number of questions surrounding the position, the biggest of which being the health of Love. Love and running backs coach Randy Jordan have said he will be ready to make his NFL debut, but it would seem that the Redskins are taking precautions to ensure they have a backup plan if that isn't the case.
Another question centers around how much time Gibson will spend with the rest of the running backs. Given Rivera's comparison to McCaffrey and the Redskins using their second draft pick to acquire him, Gibson is sure to be part of the team's larger plans on offense.
However, the majority of Gibson's yards from scrimmage at Memphis were earned as a receiver. Turner said during the Redskins Virtual Draft Party that Gibson can operate as a "true running back," but he added that Gibson could also line up as a slot receiver.
McKissic operated as a running back and receiver with the Detroit Lions and Seattle Seahawks, so he can also offer the position flexibility that Rivera looks for in players. Barber, on the other hand, was productive with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers when given the opportunity.
The Redskins want to make the running back position a focal point of their offense, and it looks like they will have plenty of players to choose from heading into the 2020 season.