Washington Redskins running back Derrius Guice is dealing with a knee injury, and while it remains unclear how long he will be out, it appears unlikely he’ll be able to play in Sunday’s home opener against the Dallas Cowboys.
One person with knowledge of the situation, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that the injury is to the meniscus in Guice’s right knee, and that the second-year runner could return to the team as early as next week, after the Cowboys game. Another person said the injury could keep Guice off the field for multiple weeks, as many as three to four games.
Coach Jay Gruden said Monday that Guice had an MRI exam Sunday after the game and another on Monday to look at “knee soreness,” and suggested that he could be back as early as the Dallas game. When asked if he had a chance to play against the Cowboys, Gruden responded, “For sure.”
Guice’s potential absence would add another layer to the team’s complicated running back situation, which was in the spotlight after Sunday’s season-opening loss at the Philadelphia Eagles. Guice started the game; Adrian Peterson, last year’s leading rusher, was held out as a healthy scratch for the first time in his career.
Guice voiced some frustrations on Twitter Monday night when he responded to a tweet by Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. that read, “If ain’t one thing ... it’s another ...” Guice tweeted in response: “I feel this deeply right now.”
He followed with another tweet that read: “Nobody can see the finish line but me. God is throwing these obstacles to show the world how strong I truly am.”
The news of Guice’s injury seemed to be a surprise to many in the organization after the running back took several hits in Sunday’s game and then moved around the locker room afterward as if everything were fine. Guice had gone into the sideline medical tent for a brief time during the second quarter Sunday but later said he simply needed a place to urinate. Gruden said Monday that Guice was actually being looked at by doctors when the back was inside the tent and that the doctors had cleared him to continue playing.
The injured knee is not the one doctors surgically repaired in the summer of 2018, after Guice tore the ACL in his left knee in the first preseason game, causing him to miss all of last season, but the fact he is hurt again is a big concern for an organization that desperately wants him to be its featured back.
Guice’s injury also brings a strange twist to an already awkward situation involving Peterson. Although Peterson signed late last summer to replace Guice and several other injured running backs, he quickly became the team’s top offensive player, rushing for 1,042 yards and seven touchdowns. Peterson signed a two-year contract with the Redskins this offseason and expected to split time with Guice in the backfield. But last week, Gruden named Guice the team’s primary running back and didn’t even dress Peterson for Sunday’s loss, saying it was more important to carry an extra special teams player than Peterson, whose potential carries could be handled by Guice.
After Sunday’s game he went as far as to say he would only play Peterson if the Redskins have a game “where we run the ball 55 times a game in the I formation.”
His criticism of Peterson seemed to upset some players, who respect Peterson not only because he has won a league MVP award and run for 13,318 career yards, but for the way he quietly fit into the locker room last year despite being a superstar. Right tackle Morgan Moses called the fact Peterson didn’t dress “a slap in the face.”
“Adrian is well-liked in the locker room,” Gruden said Monday, striking a more laudatory tone. “He’s well-liked by the coaches. He’s well-liked by everybody. Like I said before, it wasn’t an easy decision to make him inactive, without a doubt. However, we did need [fourth running back Wendell] Smallwood to cover some punts. He did a great job on kickoff return and punt cover, and we needed the extra linebacker who actually made a couple great plays on punt. Unfortunately, like I said, we couldn’t get them up at the same time. That could change next week, depending on where our third back is. It could change the week after if we want to dress four backs. Just this week in general, I thought it was best for the football team to dress three backs, the extra linebacker and one of the backs being a special-teams player. “
When asked whether he wants Peterson on the team, Gruden nodded.
“Oh yeah, for sure,” he said. “Who wouldn’t want Adrian?”
Gruden pointed out that there are still 15 games left in the season, providing more opportunities for Peterson to play. He said he expects Peterson will be ready.
“He’s got a great attitude about it,” Gruden said. “I know he’s not happy about it, but when his number is called, he’ll be ready to go. And his number will be called.”
Gruden said defensive lineman Jonathan Allen, who sprained his knee in Sunday’s game, is day-to-day. The coach also said he is hopeful that tight end Jordan Reed will be cleared to play for the home opener Sunday, which will come more than three weeks after he suffered a concussion in the team’s third preseason game. Reed will be examined later this week.
Backup defensive lineman Caleb Brantley aggravated a lingering foot injury in the loss to Philadelphia. He, too, is day-to-day.