SNIDER: Peterson headlining now, but Guice will soon be the star

Rick Snider
July 27, 2019 - 10:58 am

Redskins running back Adrian Peterson popped through the line like someone 10 years younger. Teammates born nearly a decade later like Samaje Perine and Byron Marshall also looked good against a defense not yet allowed to hit.

And then came Derrius Guice with a series of late runs in training camp’s opening practice on Thursday when flashing outside speed while turning short passes into longer gains. Nearly one year after suffering a season-ending knee injury, Guice showed his readiness to return.

But, will Peterson let him become the primary back? The 34-year-old is finishing a certain first-ballot hall-of-fame career. He has never been a backup and doesn’t plan on it now. Peterson looks younger and plays harder so nobody is unseating his role as top runner easily.

"Anytime you have a future Hall of Famer on the roster and see how they’ve taken care of their bodies over the course of time, like Adrian has, it is a great example for these young backs,” head coach Jay Gruden said. “We all understand that the running back position and the longevity isn’t very long. Watch Adrian and watch the way he works in the offseason, prepares, keeps his body right, it’s just a great example for not just Derrius, but the whole entire team."

Guice is something special, too. The Redskins stole him with a late 2018 second-round pick after draft-day rumors that proved unfounded caused Guice to drop from the first round. He has been the perfect teammate over the past year, rehabbed judiciously and already overcoming a mild strained hamstring suffered during the spring.

But, the Redskins remain cautious with their young star. Gruden knows Guice needs work given he has yet to reach an NFL regular season. It’s going to come with baby steps so Peterson remains the lead back for now.

"There's a fine line between babying them and maintenance,” Gruden said. "I think we have to keep our eye on the difference. He needs to work... He needs the looks, he needs to see the runs, his footwork, his fundamentals, his pass protections, all that."

Gruden won’t shy from playing Guice over the preseason after seeing a solid rehab process.

"It was very impressive,” Gruden said. “And the way he's grown his body and gotten stronger and stronger and faster, and he's got a better grasp of the offense as well. It's not like he's a 10-year veteran now. He hasn't played a whole lot either, but he's getting a better feel for it, too.”

So maybe the Redskins start the season with Peterson playing the bigger role, but Guice could be the lead back by mid-season. Either way, Washington’s backfield looks loaded this season.

Rick Snider has covered Washington sports since 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @Snide_Remarks