Rookie running back Antonio Gibson is moving up fantasy draft boards and perhaps the Washington Football Team’s depth chart.
At the very least, he’s getting more reps in practice and, surprised as he might well be, he’s ready for it and preparing for success.
“Definitely more [reps] than I expected coming in as a rookie. I always expect to play no matter where I go, but sometimes you’ve got to work your way to that,” Gibson said Sunday, via team team transcript. “I’ve been getting a lot of reps. I don’t know if that’s just a rookie thing with them throwing reps at me, but that just shows that they see something in me. I’m ready to handle that. You throw me in there and I’m going to get it done.”
A third-round pick out of Memphis, the 6-foot, 228-pound rookie is a big boy who finds himself in a Washington backfield brimming with possibilities.
Following an arrest on domestic violence-related charges, Derrius Guice was released by the team on Aug. 7.
Future Hall of Famer Adrian Peterson seemingly has the RB1 spot, leading a position group that includes Bryce Love, J.D. McKissic and Peyton Barber. However, Gibson is getting reps and potentially gaining ground. He’s definitely getting better acclimated, by his own account.
“I feel like it started out a little bit slow. It was a lot at first, but I’m starting to slowly get adjusted. I feel like a lot of things were just a rep thing that I needed. As it’s going along, I’m finally picking it up pretty well,” Gibson said. “[Getting reps has shown] that I’m capable. It’s just a small step right now, but it shows me that I’m capable. Everybody has their mistakes, but just learning from that and being able to correct it the next time and going out there and responding—which the game is about—shows me that I can do it.”
The 35-year-old Peterson has made it clear he’s aiming to play quite a few more seasons going forward, but perhaps the 22-year-old Gibson is the back of the future. One step at a time, of course.
After all, Gibson is coming off a senior campaign in Memphis in which he had just 369 yards and four touchdowns on the ground. Then again, that was because he was a wide receiver (he had 38 catches for 735 yards and eight touchdowns). Thus, Gibson offers plenty of versatility.
Gibson is getting acclimated to running back and the NFL, all the same. But, he’s getting some run with the ones, even though he’s downplaying the opportunities.
“I feel like [coach Ron Rivera] is just rotating us. We get out there the same amount, just rotating us, keeping us sharp, taking reps with the first team. You’ve got to be on your p’s and q’s, so I don’t take it as a difference from going with the twos and threes. You still treat it like a game, especially today simulating a game scrimmage. Either ones, twos or threes, you’ve got to treat it like game reps.”
Nonetheless, Gibson isn’t short on confidence and he’s gaining more and more day after day with each rep.
“I always had the confidence, even if you go back two years ago when I wasn’t playing and I was just going on special teams at Memphis. I always had the confidence. I knew if coach ever gave me the opportunity to play running back or receiver or wherever he was going to put me, I knew I was going to thrive. That’s just my mindset. So, I’ve always had the confidence.
“I feel like I’ve got to have that confidence. But the more I improve, my confidence always goes up. It shows me that I can, like I said earlier, I can do it. I’ve just got to do my part.”