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It's a year later than he wanted, but Derrius Guice is ready to reward the Redskins for taking a chance on him

It's a year later than he wanted, but Derrius Guice is ready to reward the Redskins for taking a chance on him

This time last year, 2018 second-round pick Derrius Guice was making a name for himself at Redskins training camp. With a vibrant personality and explosive running skill, expectations were high entering the 2018 season. Then, and ACL injury in Washington's first preseason game derailed all that hope.

After a long road to recovery, Guice is back at training camp as the 2019 season approaches. But, things are different this time around. Not only has his role on the team potentially changed with Adrian Peterson in the backfield mix, but on a much more personal level, Guice has changed as well.

Battling back from a low point in his career, the second-year version of the running back has taken the last year to mature. The injury may not have been what he hoped for, but it did allow him to gain a new perspective.

"Anytime you go through detrimental stuff like this, it changes you as a person. It changes your thought process. It changes your mentality. It changes how you look at things," Guice told NBC Sports Washington's JP Finlay.

A year ago, a main focus of Guice's was to prove his worth to some of the doubters. A slide to the second round had some people viewing him as a risk. For any young player trying to make it in the league, hearing negative words about yourself can be hard to shake.

"Coming off the draft I had I kind of had my back against the wall when I got here," Guice said. "I was really high on trying to impress everybody."

"I was never really worried about it, that was just somewhere in my mind," Guice added about the pressure to succeed. "What people were saying about me in the draft, how the Redskins took the chance that nobody else took. Obviously, I didn't want to disappoint."

The desire to be great is still there, but the concern now is less about proving it to others and more about doing what he can to help himself and the team perform at the highest level.

To do that, he's looking toward veterans as he navigates both an NFL season and the journey back from an injury. The last year has given him time to begin the growth process, but at just 22 years of age and no regular-season experience yet, there are still things to work on. Luckily for him, he's got a pretty good mentor to spend time with.

"Being a young guy, I have a lot of growing and a lot of learning to do," Guice said. "Having AP right now is not a bad start. He's one of those guys that went through the same injury I went through ."

Guice touched on the fact that Chris Thompson and Samaje Perine have experienced injuries as well, meaning the running back room has been able to share their journeys with one another. Yet, the veteran of the group Peterson is someone that they all look up to, especially Guice.

Not only has Peterson been able to help him in the recovery process, letting him know when to hydrate, when to stretch and what to do throughout the day, but he's someone that Guice and the other runners can look to whenever they have a question.

"We are all looking at him, he's that big brother and that leader that we need. We are all looking at him as the GOAT," Guice said. "He gives us all advice. Whenever we do a play we go to the sidelines and ask what he saw and what he thought. Same in the meeting room. When we are watching the film from practice, we are all looking at AP, asking him what he thinks and what he saw."

While he continues to grow and find himself with the Redskins, there's one part of Guice that will never change: his bubbly personality.

Look at him on the field at any time he's not in the middle of the play, you'll probably see him smiling and enjoying every moment. His infectious attitude quickly made him a loveable member of Redskins nation. That's always been something he's prided himself on, and he'll still be that guy in 2019.

"Just being me out there. Being hyper, having all the energy, bringing everybody together and stuff. That's why a lot called me a fan favorite, and that's why I get along with all the teammates well," Guice said. "I'm one of the guys that motivates, keep stuff going and tries to keep everybody up. Obviously, you got to lead by example. I'm always hyper, smiling and stuff."

"It's fun, not many guys get this opportunity to get to be in the National Football League. I don't take it for granted one day," he added.

Another thing that Guice won't change is how he plays on the field. When a player comes off an injury, especially in the leg area, there's always the wonder about how that will affect them not only physically, but mentally.

As Guice gets his legs back under him, that won't be the case. When he's out on the field, his past history with his knee is the last thing on his mind.

"When I'm on the field I'm never nervous. When I'm on the field I'm running. You can't think about getting hurt when you're on the field, because that's when more injuries happen. When you try to run different and run timid and scared, that's when bad things happen," Guice said. "So I'm still gonna run like me."

With a new perspective and the same old energy and explosiveness, Derrius Guice is back where he was almost a calendar year ago, but in a different environment. Chomping at the bit to get into some real game action, he has just one message to share.

"I'm back."


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Redskins sign former Eagles cornerback Ronald Darby to boost secondary

Redskins sign former Eagles cornerback Ronald Darby to boost secondary

The Redskins signed former Eagles cornerback Ronald Darby to a one-year contract on Sunday.

Darby, a second-round pick by the Bills in 2015 who played college ball at Florida State, grabbed six interceptions in three years playing in Philadelphia but dealt with major injuries throughout his time there, including an ACL tear in 2018. The deal was first reported by ESPN's Jeremy Fowler.

Washington needed to sign another cornerback after trading away disgruntled CB Quinton Dunbar last week.

With the new addition, expect the Redskins to let Kendall Fuller start on one side of the field and Darby and fourth-year pro Fabian Moreau compete for the starting spot on the other side of the defense. Jimmy Moreland projects as the inside slot corner.

The money on this deal won’t break the bank for the Redskins, but with two corners added in free agency and significantly more cash spent on Fuller, the Redskins 2020 secondary is starting to come into shape.

Washington probably feels somewhat comfortable with Fuller, Darby, Moreau and Moreland and will likely draft another corner in April. The team also signed Sean Davis from Pittsburgh with the intention to pair him with stalwart Landon Collins at the two safety spots.

For Redskins fans pushing for a reunion with former draft pick Bashaud Breeland, the Darby signing could end that possibility. Team sources said for weeks that Breeland wasn’t a strong consideration anyway.

Interestingly, Washington has now signed three defensive free agents in the secondary all with local ties. Darby grew up in Oxon Hill and played at Potomac High, Fuller went to Good Counsel High School and Davis grew up in D.C.

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Rewatching 'All Or Nothing': This scene is a prime example of Ron Rivera's integrity

Rewatching 'All Or Nothing': This scene is a prime example of Ron Rivera's integrity

Pete Hailey is rewatching Amazon's All Or Nothing, a behind-the-scenes look at the 2018 Panthers, to learn about Ron Rivera and other key people who are now a part of the Redskins. Here's his review of episode six, "That's How Football Works."

When an NFL team fires a head coach, they almost always try to move on like they're closing an Internet tab; just hit the 'X', get rid of the window and move on.

But when the Panthers parted ways with Ron Rivera last December, it was a totally different process. Rivera held a 30-minute press conference after the news broke. Veterans labeled it the worst day they had ever been a part of in the league. He even came back to the area a few months later to hold a yard sale, which ended up acting as a goodbye event that 3,000 people attended.

Yes, the coach was very successful during his tenure with the Panthers, but that kind of send-off doesn't happen for someone just because of division titles and a Super Bowl appearance. Those kinds of farewells are reserved for the people who are revered for their integrity, character and impact on everything, not just their impact on the field.

And in episode six of Amazon's 2018 edition of All Or Nothing, viewers were shown an example of what separates Rivera from most who share his position in the sport.

The early part of this installment focuses on Devin Funchess' inconsistent season and includes a flashback to an earlier practice where the receiver confronts then-QBs coach Scott Turner for being too slow with his play calling. 

After that incident, Funchess, Rivera and Turner step away to hash things out, at which point Funchess reveals his cousin had been killed the week before and the funeral had just taken place. Funchess apologizes repeatedly for his behavior. Turner then hugs him and does his best to calm him down.

Rivera, though, wants to take more time with the wideout to further talk to him and show his support. So, he brings Funchess to a bench, sits him down and puts his arm around him for an emotional one-on-one.

"I don't know what you're going through, but I can feel for you, all right?" Rivera says. "I appreciate you sharing that with both Scotty and I right now."

"If you ever have situations like that or something like that, you need to talk about stuff like that," he continues. "You know you can always talk to me all right?"

A few seconds and a few more encouraging remarks later, the two stand up, with Funchess returning to action and Rivera walking slowly behind him. Just before the scene ends, the latter sighs and appears to wipe a tear away.

In a show filled with crunching tackles and slow-motion touchdowns laid under triumphant music, this quiet exchange was easily one of its more powerful moments. It also was all one needs to see to understand why so many in Carolina were so affected when Rivera was fired.

So much about being a winner on the sidelines in the NFL is about schemes and creativity and strategy and risk-taking. But relating to players and supporting them and earning their trust is arguably more crucial than any system or depth chart decision ever could be.

Rivera's interaction with Funchess was a strong illustration of that second point. The Redskins aren't just getting an impressive coach; they're getting an impressive person. He's going to look out for his roster in every way, and in turn, that roster will likely do all it can for him.

Links to past reviews:

Episode 1: Rivera doesn't flinch after adversity hits

Episode 2: Rivera shows his feelings on distractions

Episode 3: Special teams truly mean something to Ron

Episode 4: Young Redskins will have a chance in 2020

Episode 5: Rivera goes off, and you'll want to see it