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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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VIDEO: Dwayne Haskins connects with Antonio Brown over and over in offseason workout

VIDEO: Dwayne Haskins connects with Antonio Brown over and over in offseason workout

Redskins fans will devour any video of Dwayne Haskins throwing the ball that they can get their hands on these days. 

But on Wednesday, footage emerged of Haskins throwing bomb after bomb to Antonio Brown. 

Yep. That Antonio Brown.

Haskins has had, and posted about, many offseason workouts the past few months, and most of the time, those workouts have featured teammates like Terry McLaurin and Kelvin Harmon.

On Wednesday, however, the former Steelers, Raiders and Patriots pass catcher was on the same field as the Redskins quarterback. And they made some sweet, sweet (defender-less, pass rush-less) music together:

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As seen on Haskins' own Twitter, there were some other notable names in attendance besides Brown. Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs, former NFL wideout Chad Johnson and Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith all got in some work as well. 

Is this the space where you'll find analysis on whether the Redskins should sign Brown? Nope.

Is this the space where you'll get a critique of Haskins underthrowing the Pro Bowler a time or two? Nah.

But is this the space where you'll see appreciation for one really talented person chucking a ball really high and really far to another talented person? Yes. All of the yeses. 

Those videos are fun, those videos are interesting and those videos are cool. Try not to take too much away from them other than those things, as difficult as that may be.

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Nick Sundberg thinks NFL should be cautious, follow MLB and NHL's lead in preparing for 2020 season

Nick Sundberg thinks NFL should be cautious, follow MLB and NHL's lead in preparing for 2020 season

As the NFL continues to work toward creating a plan that allows the 2020 season to start in a safe and effective way amid the coronavirus pandemic, numerous players, coaches and league officials are tasked with brainstorming the best possible solution. Among them is Washington Redskins long snapper Nick Sundberg, as the special teams veteran is the team's player representative for the National Football League Players Association.

With the calendar turning to June and OTAs and other training sessions delayed, the pressure to make a decision on how teams can work together in person continues to rise. Sundberg understands the concerns but believes the best option at this point is to not rush into anything.

“I think to be cautious is the biggest thing. I don’t want to rush into anything," Sundberg told the Redskins Talk Podcast. "Especially since we have time on our side right now, we’re not missing games today, we’re months away from that.”

Sundberg is correct in saying that time is a valuable resource for the NFL right now. Unlike other professional leagues, each passing day isn't a delay of the regular season or playoffs. Leagues like the NHL and MLB are itching to get back and salvage lost seasons, football isn't there just yet as game action isn't in jeopardy until August.

Therefore, Sundberg thinks the best course of action at the current moment is to observe what the other leagues do in the coming months. They'll be back to work first, and the NFL should see how things play out and learn from successes and failures. 

From there, the NFL would have a clearer picture of what could really happen when football returns. If the results are positive, the league can follow suit. If not, it will be up to Sundberg and company to re-work the policies done by others to create more progress in the future.

“If it were me leading our approach, I would create a blueprint from the MLB and the NHL. I would wait to see what they do and see what works and what doesn’t," Sundberg said. "Compare and contrast the two leagues on how they went about the situation of getting teams in the facilities, how they went about practice, who was allowed in the building, how they went about games.”

“I would try and model, take what they do and make it better if we can. Unless they just roll out a perfect plan, then that’s our blueprint," Sundberg added.

Besides examining policies put in place, Sundberg understands the importance of looking at numbers and trends. It's one thing to see how the other leagues go about having players and staff together on and off the field, but it's another to see what the virus does in that situation. 

"Track data over a month, month and a half, six weeks," Sundberg said. "Let’s see how many players contracted, how many coaches, how many front office and staff members and that sort of thing.”

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Real-time studies based on what happens when other sports return will largely dictate what the NFL can do, but Sundberg also understands that football isn't the same as other sports. When training camp begins, rosters are a lot larger than what baseball and hockey teams carry. Certain measures may be effective for those groups of players, but what happens when a full football franchise needs to be accounted for?

Additionally, contact is a necessary element of the game. At some point, teams are going to need to run drills where players block and hit each other and it won't be able to be avoided. How does the league prepare for that level of closeness? These are all things that Sundberg and others in the Players Association have to consider when laying the groundwork.

“For us, it’s so interesting because we have 90 guys on the roster right now and we have such a big organization, you know," Sundberg said. "You can’t have 10 guys over there, 10 guys over there, 10 guys over there. You can spread out on the fields, but at some point we have to come and do some one-on-ones. Guys are going to be breathing in each other’s faces.” 

Safety for players, staff and others involved in football operations is essential, but it's not the only factor that goes into decision-making. As recent negotiations in the MLB have shown, contracts and payments will determine how the season plays out. The NFL is no different.

As Sundberg explains, NFL players are typically paid in season, as game checks and incentives make up their contract. That isn't necessarily a concern right now as the belief is that all games will be played, but there are other stipulations in tentative plans that Sundberg and other players don't agree with.

“Some of the things I’ve heard I haven’t fallen in love with," Sundberg said.

Specifically, a proposed idea on how to handle players who contracted coronavirus was not a procedure he was a fan of. During the podcast, he noted that there was a suggestion that those with the virus would be played on a two-week disabled list, rather than the Injured Reserve. However, coronavirus would be viewed as a non-football injury. In that instance, teams would not be obligated to pay the players who ended up on the list due to coronavirus.

Clearly, that wasn't something the players were going to go for.

“There’s no way a player could get the virus at work and then you say it’s a non-football injury, right?" Sundberg explained.

The long snapper's insight into how the NFL is handling the unclear future of the 2020 season has shown that a lot still needs to be done, but only time will tell how that happens. Other leagues will potentially return soon, and that can help the professional football league in its efforts to come up with the best course of action. However, tough football-specific decisions will still be on the table.

The stress and uncertainty of the time can be a lot, but it's not something Sundberg is shying away from. He was elected to help do what's best for his team and other players around the league, and he's looking forward to fulfilling that promise.

“I think there’s a lot of work that needs to happen moving forward before we even get to the point of stepping on the field for a game," Sundberg said. "But I’m kind of looking forward to cyphering through it all and seeing some of the creative things that guys that are put in place to do that have come up with.” 

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