There’s little for football fans in Washington to be excited about.
But Derrius Guice provided a rare glimmer of football hope in the nation’s capital with a breakout game against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.
Thompson falls victim to Guice’s right hand
The second-year running back punctuated a huge performance with a nasty stiff-arm of Carolina linebacker Shaq Thompson en route to a 37-yard run to set up a fourth-quarter touchdown in a 29-21 upset of the Panthers.
Guice punched the ball into the end zone on the next play to give Washington a 22-14 lead. It was Guice’s second score of the day as he tallied 129 yards on 10 carries.
The win means little in the long run for Washington, which improves to 3-9 in a season lost long ago. But Guice’s big day matters for both him and the football team.
Tough road back for Guice
Guice’s once-promising career has twice been derailed by knee injuries, and Sunday was the first sign that he may salvage the potential that made him a second-round pick in the 2018 draft out of LSU.
Many considered Guice to be the 2018 draft’s second-best running-back prospect behind Saquon Barkley before concerns from the NFL combine saw him slip to the second round, where he was considered a steal in Washington.
But an ACL tear in his left knee that came with surgical complications and an infection robbed him of his rookie season.
After an arduous recovery, Guice returned for the season-opener against the Philadelphia Eagles, where another knee injury put his career on hold. Ten carries into the season, Guice left with an injury to his right knee, this time a torn meniscus that required surgery.
More to come from Guice?
Ten weeks later, Guice finally returned to the field, but was largely ineffective with seven carries for 24 yards in a loss to the New York Jets. Last week’s 32-yard performance over 10 carries against the Detroit Lions wasn’t much better.
But Sunday was different. Guice showed the game-breaking ability that made him a star at LSU, a combination of speed and power that Thompson learned of the hard way.
The breakout gives Washington and Guice hope that he can be the lead back they believed they’d drafted in 2018.
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