The addition of second-round draft pick Derrius Guice has had some welcomed but unintended consequences for the Washington Redskins.
The 5-foot-11, 225-pounder was the draft’s 59th pick out of LSU despite having a first-round grade from the Redskins and many other teams. The Baton Rouge native was as advertised during organized team activities and mandatory minicamp, running with juice, showing off sharp cuts and displaying a good set of hands in the passing game.
Coaches always hope competition pushes others to get better, but it doesn’t always work out that way. Jealousy or resentment can turn a locker room toxic and even precipitate departures from the roster. That hasn’t been the case for the Redskins’ running backs, despite Rob Kelley being a two-year starter and Samaje Perine joining the team as a fourth-round pick just last year.
“He’s a tremendous talent. He’s a guy that’s high energy,” running backs coach Randy Jordan said of Guice. “What he’s done to the room is he’s elevated the play. He’s a high-energy guy who wants to take every rep. When you get a guy like that, everybody else is like, ‘Hey, man, I’ve got to make sure I take care of mine.’ What it’s done is elevate the play in the room.”
Kelley said he doesn’t take Guice’s addition personally, and he would have done the same thing if he were running the team. Both Kelley and Chris Thompson were lost to injured reserve last season, and the running game ranked 28th in the NFL. Guice and Kelley were splitting many of the first-team reps by the end of offseason workouts, although Kelley typically got the first rep. Thompson was present on the sideline most of the time as he works his way back; the sixth-year running back still has high expectations for his 2018 role in the offense.
“Overall, we accomplished what we wanted to accomplish in terms of learning the system, fundamentals and techniques and just getting ready for the season,” Jordan said of the workouts. “There’s a lot of competition in that room. When you have that, everything else takes care of itself.”
The team is off until July 26, when training camp begins in Richmond. Coach Jay Gruden warned of players getting complacent and lax in taking care of their bodies over the next six weeks. He doesn’t want players to regress from the work they put in over the past month. There’s a balance, though.
“First and foremost, tell them it’s not a vacation,” Jordan said. “You get an extended work release. You always want to keep your body in shape. I tell them, ‘Make sure you take care of your body, but also get away from football.’ Because once you get back to Richmond, it’s a total grind. You need to get your mind refreshed. But you cannot allow the stuff that you’ve done in the offseason to all of a sudden just disappear.
“So there’s a balance that they’ve got to find where you’re working out, going to the beach, working out, taking a little break and just finding that balance so, when they come back, they’re ready to go.”
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