ASHBURN — Adrian Peterson and Derrius Guice have a signal, one that lets the other standing on the sideline know when he needs a breather. But there’s also an understanding: They’re going to let each other work — especially if one of them is in a rhythm.
The two Washington Redskins running backs reinforced that give-and-take approach to playing time in Sunday’s 29-21 win over the Carolina Panthers.
“Hey, when you’re in there,” Peterson recalled telling his teammate, “you do your thing.”
Against Carolina, both backs did their thing. And then some.
Guice and Peterson combined for 228 of Washington’s 248 rushing yards. It was the breakout the Redskins had been hoping for, with each back delivering on the potential Washington saw all the way back in training camp. They did it on just 23 attempts between them.
“It seems like we found the right recipe,” Peterson said.
Before the Panthers, the Redskins had struggled to utilize both Peterson and Guice. Peterson was inactive entirely for Week 1, and then Guice missed the next eight games with a torn meniscus. When the 22-year-old returned after the bye, Guice and Peterson split carries over the next two games — but neither topped 50 yards rushing.
Still, Washington interim coach Bill Callahan felt Guice and Peterson could bring a “different dimension” to the Redskins. On Monday, Callahan talked about the challenge the backfield combo presents to opposing defenses: Both ball-carriers are consistent and powerful runners, he said, but each is elusive and explosive enough to make big plays.
On Sunday, Peterson and Guice used all those traits to rattle off a series of game-changing runs. There was Guice’s 60-yard gash in the first quarter. Peterson’s 22-yard run just after halftime helped give Washington the lead. And then there was the 22-year-old Guice’s ferocious stiff-arm in the fourth that helped set up the game-winning touchdown.
It helped, too, the Redskins were much better in their execution along the offensive line to create bigger lanes for the running backs. Callahan said the line was “all on the same page” and he credited rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins for managing the run. Despite being down 14, Callahan said offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell did a “great job” of sticking with the run.
“They finally got to see the one-two-headed monster of us,” Guice said. “Those are the days I’ve been waiting on since they called him when I tore my ACL.”
In the visiting locker room, Guice noted how long he had to wait for this opportunity. Beyond the torn meniscus, the LSU product also rehabbed a torn ACL in his left knee during the preseason of his rookie year. In the time since then, Peterson joined the Redskins and flourished.
But now that they’re active, Guice and Peterson each were able to celebrate together. Coming off the field, CBS interviewed the duo together. During the interview, Guice revealed how Peterson was supposed to come in prior to his first touchdown, but “he told me to go get it.” For his second touchdown, Peterson further encouraged him, Guice said.
Callahan, meanwhile, said he sees a “player continuing to emerge” in Guice.
“There’s a lot of range to his game, a lot of ceiling in his game,” Callahan said. “I think we’re just starting to tap it.”
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