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With the Washington Redskins 53-man roster set, coach Jay Gruden is feeling optimistic about the team’s final roster as week one approaches.
Some of the toughest decisions leading up to cut day were at running back and wide receiver. Mainly because both positions were set with the exception of who to keep beyond the first through third options on the depth chart.
On the running back front, the Redskins decided to part ways with Samaje Perine and Byron Marshall who were released after the team claimed Philadelphia Eagles former running back Wendell Smallwood off waivers. When Gruden was asked about these moves, particularly letting go of Perine, he made it clear that Guice is his leading guy moving forward.
“It’s a shame, you win some and you lose some. Samaje will do good wherever he goes, Cincinnati I guess,” Gruden said. “At the end of the day, it’s not so much Samaje that it is about Derrius Guice, how much faith we have in him to carry the ball. We drafted him for a reason. We feel like he can be a first, second and even a third down back, if needed.”
“I think the offense, carries wise, will probably go through him, pretty much,” Gruden continued. “Obviously, Chris Thompson we like. On special teams, we just had to have another guy like Smallwood that can contribute on punt and also do some things on third down as well. We feel good about the guys we kept. Obviously, AP is still here, that can run the ball as good as anybody. We’re good at running back.”
Guice was a fan favorite at the beginning of his rookie year until a season-ending ACL injury in the first preseason game of his career ended his aspirations to prove doubters wrong after falling to the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft. Now that Guice is healthy, he has a chance at redemption and feels ready for week one.
“I’m feeling good, the coaches are confident in me. I’m confident with where I’m at right now,” stated Guice.
Guice also recognizes that a season without injury will define his success.
“Just coming off of what I had last season, this season would be a success with no injuries for sure,” Guice said.
The Redskins open the season on Sunday against the Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. While the stage hasn’t been set on distribution of playing time amongst the running backs, Gruden’s comments indicate that he plans to rely heavily on Guice throughout the season.