This time last year, 2018 second-round pick Derrius Guice was making a name for himself at Redskins training camp. With a vibrant personality and explosive running skill, expectations were high entering the 2018 season. Then, and ACL injury in Washington's first preseason game derailed all that hope.
After a long road to recovery, Guice is back at training camp as the 2019 season approaches. But, things are different this time around. Not only has his role on the team potentially changed with Adrian Peterson in the backfield mix, but on a much more personal level, Guice has changed as well.
Battling back from a low point in his career, the second-year version of the running back has taken the last year to mature. The injury may not have been what he hoped for, but it did allow him to gain a new perspective.
"Anytime you go through detrimental stuff like this, it changes you as a person. It changes your thought process. It changes your mentality. It changes how you look at things," Guice told NBC Sports Washington's JP Finlay.
A year ago, a main focus of Guice's was to prove his worth to some of the doubters. A slide to the second round had some people viewing him as a risk. For any young player trying to make it in the league, hearing negative words about yourself can be hard to shake.
"Coming off the draft I had I kind of had my back against the wall when I got here," Guice said. "I was really high on trying to impress everybody."
"I was never really worried about it, that was just somewhere in my mind," Guice added about the pressure to succeed. "What people were saying about me in the draft, how the Redskins took the chance that nobody else took. Obviously, I didn't want to disappoint."
The desire to be great is still there, but the concern now is less about proving it to others and more about doing what he can to help himself and the team perform at the highest level.
To do that, he's looking toward veterans as he navigates both an NFL season and the journey back from an injury. The last year has given him time to begin the growth process, but at just 22 years of age and no regular-season experience yet, there are still things to work on. Luckily for him, he's got a pretty good mentor to spend time with.
"Being a young guy, I have a lot of growing and a lot of learning to do," Guice said. "Having AP right now is not a bad start. He's one of those guys that went through the same injury I went through ."
Guice touched on the fact that Chris Thompson and Samaje Perine have experienced injuries as well, meaning the running back room has been able to share their journeys with one another. Yet, the veteran of the group Peterson is someone that they all look up to, especially Guice.
Not only has Peterson been able to help him in the recovery process, letting him know when to hydrate, when to stretch and what to do throughout the day, but he's someone that Guice and the other runners can look to whenever they have a question.
"We are all looking at him, he's that big brother and that leader that we need. We are all looking at him as the GOAT," Guice said. "He gives us all advice. Whenever we do a play we go to the sidelines and ask what he saw and what he thought. Same in the meeting room. When we are watching the film from practice, we are all looking at AP, asking him what he thinks and what he saw."
While he continues to grow and find himself with the Redskins, there's one part of Guice that will never change: his bubbly personality.
Look at him on the field at any time he's not in the middle of the play, you'll probably see him smiling and enjoying every moment. His infectious attitude quickly made him a loveable member of Redskins nation. That's always been something he's prided himself on, and he'll still be that guy in 2019.
"Just being me out there. Being hyper, having all the energy, bringing everybody together and stuff. That's why a lot called me a fan favorite, and that's why I get along with all the teammates well," Guice said. "I'm one of the guys that motivates, keep stuff going and tries to keep everybody up. Obviously, you got to lead by example. I'm always hyper, smiling and stuff."
"It's fun, not many guys get this opportunity to get to be in the National Football League. I don't take it for granted one day," he added.
Another thing that Guice won't change is how he plays on the field. When a player comes off an injury, especially in the leg area, there's always the wonder about how that will affect them not only physically, but mentally.
As Guice gets his legs back under him, that won't be the case. When he's out on the field, his past history with his knee is the last thing on his mind.
"When I'm on the field I'm never nervous. When I'm on the field I'm running. You can't think about getting hurt when you're on the field, because that's when more injuries happen. When you try to run different and run timid and scared, that's when bad things happen," Guice said. "So I'm still gonna run like me."
With a new perspective and the same old energy and explosiveness, Derrius Guice is back where he was almost a calendar year ago, but in a different environment. Chomping at the bit to get into some real game action, he has just one message to share.
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