During the Kansas City Chiefs' win Sunday over the San Francisco 49ers, Derrius Guice tweeted how he couldn't wait to see how it feels to seal a Super Bowl victory. The 22-year-old Washington Redskins running back had just watched his Chiefs' counterpart, running back Damien Williams, score twice late to put the 49ers away.
But before Guice can be a star in the Super Bowl, he has to prove to himself and his team he can survive in the regular season.Two months after a season-ending knee injury, Guice is well aware of the perception that has formed over the first two years of his pro career: He's injury-prone.
The former LSU star wants to prove differently.
"The main thing is getting through games healthy," Guice said Saturday. "I've been a practice all-American so far. I'm trying to bring that to the field."
Since the 2018 second-rounder was drafted, he's had three knee injuries — two surgeries — and appeared in only five games. He ended his 2019 season where he spent his rookie year: on injured reserve.
Guice, who rushed for 245 yards and three touchdowns on 42 carries last season, said he sees the label "everywhere." People may not tell him directly, he added, but he sees it. His post about Williams, for example, drew comments such as: "Just stay healthy, okay?" and "lmao, go get hurt again."
It's not easy to stay positive, he admits.
"When it comes to constantly being injured and … knowing how tough you are, but everybody else is looking at you as just soft who can't stay on the field, it's gonna frustrate you," Guice said. "You just have to realize where you are and realize where they are in a sense.
"It's always the people behind you talking the loudest."
Even with the criticism, Guice still appears to enjoy interacting with fans. Over the weekend, he attended the opening of a Bowlero bowling alley in Annandale, Virginia, chatting with the hundreds of spectators who showed up knowing he'd be there.
Guice also consistently interacts with fans on social media. That, too, can cause controversy. The running back defended his decision to go to the White House last month when his alma mater won the national championship.
Guice received some criticism for posting a picture with Vice President Mike Pence and again later with President Trump. "All I know is I come from nothing, and it will always be an honor to meet a president of the United States!" Guice tweeted.
Under coach Ron Rivera, the Redskins added new trainer Ryan Vermillion — and Guice said the two have been at the team's facility, getting to know each other. As Guice works on his rehab, the running back said Vermillion is learning what the 22-year-old's body can -- and can't -- do.
"I feel like that's the ideal offseason, not really traveling around," Guice said. "All that does is exhaust you."
But there will be many -- Guice included -- who won't be happy until the running back makes it through a full season.
"I just gotta keep elevating and moving forward," Guice said.
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