The Washington Football Team offense could be getting a major boost as early as next week, as head coach Ron Rivera said he's hopeful running back Antonio Gibson can return to the lineup next Sunday against the Panthers.
"We look forward to getting Antonio back, hopefully, this week. But we’ll see," Rivera said Sunday following Washington's 20-15 loss to Seattle.
Gibson has not played since Week 13, where he injured his toe in the first quarter of Washington's victory over Pittsburgh.
The running back wasn't expected to play on Sunday against Seattle. He entered the game listed as doubtful. But Gibson did participate in individual drills in practice on Friday, his first action since suffering the injury.
Despite missing the past two games, Gibson still is the overwhelming leader in rushing yards (633) and touchdowns (11) for Washington.
In Gibson's absence, running back JD McKissic has seen an expanded role within Washington's offense. McKissic was primarily used as the team's pass-catching back with Gibson in the lineup, but notched 24 carries over the past two weeks with the rookie sidelined.
McKissic's play in Gibson's absence, along with the production from tight end Logan Thomas, has impressed Rivera.
“I think it’s amazing. I really do," Rivera said. "These are guys that we brought in knowing that—at least we felt—that these are guys getting ready to take the next step. They most certainly showed it and have played like it. They really are a part of what we’re trying to do as we go forward as a football team."
Gibson's return would come at an opportune time for Washington. It remains in first place in the NFC East with just two weeks to play.
"The biggest thing is, this next game will be the most important game we'll play this year," Rivera said. "That's the truth."