ASHBURN, Va. - The destruction of the Coronavirus has left the 2020 NFL season with a wide set of questions. Little is known about how this fall will shake out on a broad scale, but on a small scale, things might be even less settled for the Washington Football Team's backfield.
Here's what is known: Adrian Peterson will have a role.
He touched the ball about 230 times last year, and that came with a rather infamous Week 1 benching. Expect a similar role in 2020, even if it's a bit reduced. Put simply, AP will get his, and that's a known quantity.
Beyond that, Washington has a ton of options and what looks like a very creative play-caller in Scott Turner. Coming up with real expectations for the Washington backfield seems harder this year than most in recent history.
Rookie Antonio Gibson will be a major factor. In fact it wouldn't be a shock if he ends up with the most touches of any back in the group. Not carries, but touches.
Expect to see him on the field with J.D. McKissic. A lot. That two-back set seems quite popular during two weeks of training camp and the versatility of both players could create headaches for opposing defenses. Both guys can catch the ball out of the backfield and run, make a guy miss and flash speed. And Gibson can also run guys over.
"I'm always watching him because he's that type of player that I want to be. We've kind of got similar skillsets," Gibson said of McKissic. "I feel like he's a little bit quicker than me, and I'm a little bit bigger, taller. That's the type of player I feel like I am. I see a lot that I do when he's doing it. I'm always watching what he does and learning from him. I feel like we could be a problem."
Barber is a known quantity too, but it seems like head coach Ron Rivera really likes him. What does he like? Size and downhill running. Barber's numbers from his past four seasons in Tampa aren't particularly impressive - he averaged about 3.4 yards-per-carry the last two seasons - but Rivera saw him plenty while coaching in Tampa.
Love generated real excitement when training camp opened, first by just simply being on the field after missing all of the 2019 season. Early on he showed burst and speed, but as camp has progressed, Love's workload diminished. In a heavy-hitting scrimmage on Sunday, it didn't appear that Love got any snaps with the first-team offense.
Still, Rivera won't discount the former Stanford star.
"Don't fall asleep on Bryce. Bryce had a couple nice things today happen," Rivera said Friday. "He had a nice run to the corner and just had an angle on everybody and beat them to the end zone."
Here's the truth - Washington has five legit backs that could get carries when the games matter. How will that shake out? Will the team make roster spots for all five? Or could they carry five and try to stash Love back on the injured reserve as he continues to work his way back from the devastating knee injury sustained in December 2019?
Rivera isn't tipping his hand yet. Cut down day is looming, and it's possible Washington starts five wide at RB.
"It's a good group, it really is. I'm really pleased with these five guys," Rivera said. "We'll see how it unfolds."
MORE WASHINGTON FOOTBALL NEWS:
- Camp Notes: Pete Hailey's breakdown from 8/30
- Jon Allen: Left practice, Rivera says he's OK
- Intense: Watch Young and AP collide