ASHBURN, Va. — For the first time in his career, Washington Commanders running back Antonio Gibson was a 1,000-yard rusher in 2021.
Unfortunately, he was also the league leader in fumbles and fumbles lost among running backs.
That downside motivated Washington to draft Alabama running back Brian Robinson Jr. in the third round of the NFL Draft this year, and after just one preseason game it looked like the rookie was primed to become the new lead back for this team.
Aided in part by a Gibson fumble on the first-team offense’s second possession of the preseason.
“Honestly, first game of preseason I responded bad,” Gibson said when asked about his mindset entering the season. “I let it get to me. But that’s not me…I’m going to get back to playing football, I’m going to have fun. I still feel like I’m one of the best running backs in the league and I got something to prove.”
While honesty is always appreciated among media circles, fans of the team would be much happier to see Gibson carrying the ball and keeping it in his hands through the whistle.
That’s the first step towards Gibson redeeming himself after watching Robinson take full advantage of his opportunity to run with the starters following that preseason fumble against the Carolina Panthers.
Since then, the former starter had been relegated to second and third-team reps while also getting involved in special teams as a potential kick return specialist.
To his credit, Gibson embraced his new role, both in execution and in spirit.
The Jaguars are coming into Sunday’s game with a lot to prove.
Will Washington be without one of their top defenders in Week 1?
“I’m just doing whatever I can to help the team,” Gibson said of his ever-adapting role on the team. “Wherever they put me at, I’m going to do my job to the best.”
Now, with Robinson on the mend after being senselessly shot in a botched robbery attempt just after the end of the preseason, Gibson is once again sitting atop the running back depth chart.
And while Gibson is looking to get back to the fun of playing football, every carry will be scrutinized intensely by those looking to see the budding star return, and for the fumble-prone version from 2021 to disappear.
The Jacksonville Jaguars will have something to say about that, and you can expect that defensive stars like Josh Allen and No. 1 overall pick Travon Walker will be looking to keep Washington’s No. 24 on his bad streak.
Which Gibson will we get in Week 1? That answer will loom large in determining whether the Commanders start the new year with a win, or a loss.
The Jaguars and Commanders kick off at 1 p.m. Sunday.
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This content was originally published here.