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Ron Rivera on Washington RB Antonio Gibson: ‘You can tell he’s matured’ at the position

During his college career at Memphis, Antonio Gibson touched the ball on only 77 offensive plays. What he did with those plays (1,203 total yards and 14 touchdowns) was impressive enough that the Washington Football Team made him the No. 66 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft

Given that he was a hybrid player in college (33 carries, 44 catches across two seasons), it seemed likely that Gibson would begin his NFL career as a pass-catching back, operating on third downs and in the two-minute offense. Instead, the opposite happened. Gibson was used largely as Washington’s early-down back, while veteran J.D. McKissic kept the pass-catching role. 

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Still, Gibson did well with his opportunities: 170 carries for 795 yards and seven scores in 14 games, while playing only 43% of the offensive snaps. And even while not being the primary pass catcher out of the backfield, he still managed to snag 36 receptions for 247 more yards. 

Heading into 2021, it looks like Gibson will be Washington’s full-time back, full stop. And the coaching staff seems very excited about that prospect. 

“You can tell he’s matured, got a better feel and understanding,” Washington coach Ron Rivera said during minicamp earlier this month, per ESPN.com. “Those natural instincts that you look for, the intangibles that guys that have been playing the positions their whole career naturally have. You start to see those come to light with Antonio. It’s exciting.”

Running backs coach Randy Jordan specifically noted Gibson’s capability as a receiver, noting that the Football Team did not utilize that part of his skill set all that often last year. “The biggest thing for him is continuing to progress, not only as a runner but as a pass catcher,” Jordan said. “That’s something we haven’t really tapped in[to] a lot.”

That Washington coaches are talking Gibson up this much despite his working through minicamp with a lingering turf toe injury that he initially suffered toward the tail end of last season and did not get surgery on, is pretty encouraging. Gibson himself doesn’t seem all that worried about the injury, for what it’s worth. 

“Definitely something to monitor,” Gibson said. “I’ve been cutting and running full speed, making cuts I need to make. … But I definitely got to watch and make sure I stay up on my treatment so nothing goes south.”




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