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In his 2019 debut, Derrius Guice proves he can be a difference maker

In his 2019 debut, Derrius Guice proves he can be a difference maker

For the first time in more than a year and just the second time ever, Derrius Guice suited up for the Redskins in live game action. The wait was worth it.

The running back was Washington's main option out of the backfield in the first half of Thursday's exhibition in Atlanta and he took advantage of the opportunity. In total, he had 11 carries for 44 yards as well as a four-yard reception.

Those numbers, while solid, may not totally excite fans. Those who watched him, however, know there's plenty to be encouraged by.

On his first attempt, Guice displayed sweet vision on a cut back toward the middle of the field for a nice seven-yard gain.

A few plays later, he took a handoff off the left side, dropped a defender with a nasty stiff-arm and then finished the sequence off by flattening another Falcon on his way out of bounds. Here's that very physical run, where Guice shows how un-fun it'll be to tackle him this season:

Near the end of that opening drive, Jay Gruden called a screen pass to get Guice involved in the passing game, too. Using him that way should keep defenses guessing when he lines up behind the QB.

His longest rush of the evening came on the team's second-to-last possession of the first half, where he got things going with a 12-yarder. He had plenty of burst on that highlight, showing no signs of any rust coming off of his torn ACL in 2018.

No. 29 had a chance to cap his night off with a touchdown with two carries from the one-yard line but unfortunately he was stuffed both times. Other than that disappointing stretch, though, Guice and Gruden accomplished what they set out to do: let him get acclimated to taking hits again while getting a feel for the NFL as well.

"I felt good man," Guice told former Redskins running back Clinton Portis during a sideline interview. "You know, a lot of people beforehand were talking about what I got to prove, this and that to who and whom. All I had to do was prove it to myself that I was healthy, and I'm back, ready to go. I'm not trying to prove nothing to nobody."

Looking ahead to Week 1, the Redskins know what Chris Thompson will provide them, and they hope Adrian Peterson can produce at a similar level to what he did last year. 

Guice, meanwhile, largely remains a mystery, but on Thursday, he hinted at what he could become. And if that hint turns into reality, then the Burgundy and Gold will have a major difference-maker on their hands.

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Terry McLaurin was not surprised a hobbled Dwayne Haskins stayed in vs. Green Bay

Terry McLaurin was not surprised a hobbled Dwayne Haskins stayed in vs. Green Bay

Rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins played much of the Redskins Week 14 loss to the Green Bay Packers with a sprained ankle.

The rookie had a very noticeable limp and struggled to put weight on his bad leg. Haskins was clearly not at full health. Backup quarterback Case Keenum was seen warming up multiple times on the sideline, but never entered the game.

In the team's postgame press conference, interim head coach Bill Callahan said he never considered pulling Haskins from the game. Rookie wide receiver Terry McLaurin, who was teammates with Haskins at Ohio State and has known the quarterback for a while, never thought that Haskins would exit the game, either.

"I know Dwayne. I've known him for a while now," McLaurin told NBC Sports Washington's JP Finlay. "He's a tough guy, and I feel like he gives us a good chance to win games. I knew if he was out there, he was going to be good to go. He was hobbled a little bit, but he wasn't going to use that as an excuse at all. It was cool to see him fight through it. We just hope that he can get healthy for next week."

McLaurin was then asked whether he thought Haskins should have been pulled. The wideout commended his quarterback for his toughness, and believes that will go a long way in terms of earning respect from his teammates.

"I mean, I'm not a doctor, so I feel like if you feel like you can play, then you try to play. Only that person knows how bad it is," McLaurin said. "He's a tough guy. He's a guy trying to earn the respect of this team. He's a quarterback, he's young. I feel like stuff like that really puts you in a step forward to get some respect. He was noticeably hurt and he fought for us."

Haskins finished 16-for-27 for 171 yards. He connected on an incredible late touchdown pass with McLaurin to pull the Redskins within five with just over a minute remaining in the game. On the two-point conversion try, Haskins put his body on the line, diving for the goal line headfirst. He didn't convert.

The Packers recovered the Redskins ensuing onside kick attempt, the Burgundy and Gold's final hope at pulling off the upset. 

The Redskins offensive line did not help out a hobbled Haskins much either. The rookie was sacked four times in the loss and hit the turf on numerous other occasions.

Although the Redskins weren't able to pull off the upset, Haskins showed poise and toughness by fighting through a noticeable injury and giving the Redskins everything he had.

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The Redskins’ far-fetched playoff dreams were officially dashed after losing to the Packers

The Redskins’ far-fetched playoff dreams were officially dashed after losing to the Packers

The Redskins entered Lambeau Field in Week 14 with a 3-9 record, but because the NFC East has been such a mess this year, they still had very slim playoff hopes. 

Thanks to their 20-15 loss against the Packers, however, those slim hopes are now nonexistent. Washington will not play in the postseason for the fourth straight campaign. 

The Burgundy and Gold would’ve had to finish by winning their final four contests and also would’ve needed major help from the Cowboys to the Eagles in order to sneak into the playoffs. That scoreboard watching isn’t necessary anymore, of course. 

“It’s tough being eliminated,” Terry McLaurin said in the visitor's locker room. “Our division is so open.”

Now, the team will use the next three weeks to further look at Dwayne Haskins’ growth as well as the development of other young pieces on both sides of the ball. Then, when those games wrap up, they’ll need to find a new head coach for 2020 and consider other possible changes within the franchise as well. 

When this season began back in July at training camp, there was some thought that the Redskins could compete behind a potentially improved defense and a run-centric offense. Those things didn’t emerge, though, and now, the organization will again be irrelevant on the field when January comes around.

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