One of the reasons the Washington Football Team cut Adrian Peterson before the start of the 2020 season was to give its young running backs, particularly Antonio Gibson, more touches and a chance to grow.
Through seven games, it appears Ron Rivera made the right call.
Pro Football Focus rated Gibson as the NFL's top-rated rookie running back entering Week 8 ahead of Clyde Edwards-Helaire, James Robinson, Jonathan Taylor and D'Andre Swift. Swift, Taylor and Edwards-Helaire were all drafted ahead of Gibson.
Gibson's stats don't exactly put him way out in front of his fellow rookie running backs. Among the five aforementioned players, Gibson ranks third in rushing yards and yards per carry, fourth in scrimmage yards and third in touchdowns.
But PFF doesn't grade its players on the traditional counting stats. They determine their grades on a play-to-play basis and judge a player's entire body of work. So whatever Gibson is doing on tape that's hard to capture in the final box score, it's working for him.
Everything seemed to click against the Cowboys in Week 7, where Gibson broke out for a career-high 128 yards on 20 carries and a touchdown, leading Washington's best rushing attack of the season by far against a weak Cowboys defense.
Not too bad for a player who moved from receiver in college to full-time NFL running back.