In his 2019 debut, Derrius Guice proves he can be a difference maker

Peter Hailey
NBC Sports Washington

For the first time in more than a year and just the second time ever, Derrius Guice suited up for the Redskins in live game action. The wait was worth it.

The running back was Washington's main option out of the backfield in the first half of Thursday's exhibition in Atlanta and he took advantage of the opportunity. In total, he had 11 carries for 44 yards as well as a four-yard reception.

Those numbers, while solid, may not totally excite fans. Those who watched him, however, know there's plenty to be encouraged by.

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On his first attempt, Guice displayed sweet vision on a cut back toward the middle of the field for a nice seven-yard gain.

A few plays later, he took a handoff off the left side, dropped a defender with a nasty stiff-arm and then finished the sequence off by flattening another Falcon on his way out of bounds. Here's that very physical run, where Guice shows how un-fun it'll be to tackle him this season:

Near the end of that opening drive, Jay Gruden called a screen pass to get Guice involved in the passing game, too. Using him that way should keep defenses guessing when he lines up behind the QB.

His longest rush of the evening came on the team's second-to-last possession of the first half, where he got things going with a 12-yarder. He had plenty of burst on that highlight, showing no signs of any rust coming off of his torn ACL in 2018.

No. 29 had a chance to cap his night off with a touchdown with two carries from the one-yard line but unfortunately he was stuffed both times. Other than that disappointing stretch, though, Guice and Gruden accomplished what they set out to do: let him get acclimated to taking hits again while getting a feel for the NFL as well.

"I felt good man," Guice told former Redskins running back Clinton Portis during a sideline interview. "You know, a lot of people beforehand were talking about what I got to prove, this and that to who and whom. All I had to do was prove it to myself that I was healthy, and I'm back, ready to go. I'm not trying to prove nothing to nobody."

Looking ahead to Week 1, the Redskins know what Chris Thompson will provide them, and they hope Adrian Peterson can produce at a similar level to what he did last year. 

Guice, meanwhile, largely remains a mystery, but on Thursday, he hinted at what he could become. And if that hint turns into reality, then the Burgundy and Gold will have a major difference-maker on their hands.

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In his 2019 debut, Derrius Guice proves he can be a difference maker originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

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