A year ago, Derrius Guice had just started the recovery process for a torn ACL that ended his rookie campaign.
But now that Guice is fully healthy, head coach Jay Gruden believes he's more than capable of shouldering the rushing load in 2019.
"We drafted him for a reason," Gruden told reporters after practice Monday. "We feel like he can be a first-, second- and even a third-down back, if needed. I think the offense, carries wise, will probably go through him, pretty much."
Gruden's comments were in response to a question about former running back Samaje Perine, who the team released during final roster cuts Saturday. The veteran head coach said the roster move had less to do with Perine's performance and more to do with how much faith the team has in Guice -- a second-round pick last season -- and the rest of its rushers.
"Obviously, Chris Thompson we like. We just had to have another guy like [Wendell] Smallwood that can contribute on punt and also do some things on third down as well," Gruden said. "We feel good about the guys we kept. Obviously, [Adrian Peterson] is still here and can run the ball as good as anybody. We're good at running back."
Redskins Opt For Youth At Wide Receiver
In parting ways with former first-round pick Josh Doctson, the Redskins expressed confidence in what will be a young wide receiver core in 2019.
"He did some good things for us. We had high expectations for him," Gruden said of Doctson, who combined for 81 receptions and 1,100 yards over three seasons. "But I think the emergence of what we think [Kelvin] Harmon can be and Terry [McLaurin] can be and obviously Trey Quinn coming back and Paul Richardson with his speed. Then obviously [Steven] Sims [Jr.] and ... Rob Davis with is ability to play special teams was a big factor as well."
With the release of Doctson and fellow veteran Brian Quick, Richardson is the only Redskins wideout with more than two years of NFL experience. Richardson will start the regular season opener alongside Quinn, last year's Mr. Irrelevant, and McLaurin, who has exceeded expectations in his first NFL season.
Behind them will be Davis, who missed all of 2018 with a leg injury, Harmon, a sixth-round rookie, and Sims, who was the only undrafted rookie to make the 53-man roster.
"I just think that [Sims] does something with the ball in his hands that not many people can do, very explosive," Gruden said. "[We have to] figure out ways to get him the ball somehow, just get him acclimated to the offense. He's still learning, he's a rookie, but he's doing a good job. I just think that when the ball is in his hands, good things happen."
The Redskins added two players to their 53-man roster over the past two days: running back Wendell Smallwood and defensive lineman Treyvon Hester. The Philadelphia Eagles released both players during final roster cuts Saturday.
Gruden said the team added Smallwood primarily for his special teams abilities, yet the fourth-year rusher believes he can provide a "little mix of everything" for his new franchise.
Hester, meanwhile, was more of a precautionary signing given the health concerns of defensive lineman Caleb Brantley (foot). Gruden said Brantley looked good during individual drills at practice Monday, but he did miss time this preseason with what was diagnosed as a "mild Lisfranc injury."
The Redskins are still awaiting an update on tight end Jordan Reed, who was admitted into concussion protocol after taking a nasty hit in Atlanta on Aug. 22.
Elsewhere, corner Fabian Moreau is still dealing with an ankle injury and is questionable for Week 1. If he cannot play, Gruden is confident either Greg Stroman or seventh-round rookie Jimmy Moreland can excel in the slot.