Running back Kapri Bibbs stood in the Redskins locker room following the team’s 20-17 win over the Dallas Cowboys surrounded by media. The entire time he answered questions, a large grin remained on his face. Once the crowd dispersed, he took some time to thank Redskins fans over video on the team’s Instagram account.
To some, this could seem like just another ordinary moment for a professional athlete. Yet Bibbs didn’t seem to be taking the moment for granted. Beginning the season on the practice squad, he was now being recognized for his efforts, something he has constantly been striving for.
“To establish myself in this league and establish my name, even with this team,” Bibbs said about his goals. “Cause I wanna be here. I love playing here and I love suiting up in these colors. It’s amazing.”
With an injury keeping Chris Thompson off the field on Sunday, Bibbs suited up knowing that the Redskins would be relying on him to produce in Thompson’s absence. With a similar skill set, he was excited for the opportunity to be the main pass-catching option out of the backfield. Though he admitted that Thompson will always be the, “best third down back in the league,” Bibbs was confident in his ability to go out and make plays for an offense that would need contributions from everyone.
He did just that on the offense’s opening drive of the game, taking a screen pass from quarterback Alex Smith 23 yards to the end zone for an early score. As excited as he was, Bibbs made sure to give credit to the guys upfront.
"[Brandon Scherff]’s hemmed up taking him to the Gatorade cooler and shoot, you look out to the right and see Josh Doctson out there just clamping a guy out there,” Bibbs said about the blocks on the screen play. “The whole time I’m just running, and I’m looking at my guys making amazing blocks and I’m like, “I got to get in this end zone right now.’ Like, these guys are stuck on these dudes like glue, I got to get in here. I love those guys, man.”
Bibbs would finish the game with a team-high in receptions (4) and receiving yards (43), while also picking up 13 yards on the ground as well. With the offense needing production for more players, Bibbs was able to answer the call.
Next to where Bibbs was fielding questions postgame was a temporarily vacant locker. It belongs to Adrian Peterson, and while he would usually take questions in that spot, his performance on Sunday warranted a trip to the podium.
While Peterson had been more involved in the offense than Bibbs through the first five games, his role on Sunday was similar. With wide receivers Paul Richardson Jr. and Jamison Crowder also out, Peterson became the focal point of the offensive attack.
Living up to his nickname “All Day,” Peterson continued his resurgent 2018 campaign, rushing for 99 yards on 24 carries. The third time this season he has been within four yards or less of a 100-yard game.
“Make some better reads on my end, and fall for positive yards,” Peterson said about coming up a few yards short. “I’ll just take the six yards away from the 120 I had, and I’ll throw it on the 97 or 99 something like that, it’ll average out.”
Despite not reaching the century mark, Peterson still played a crucial role in the offensive production, constantly breaking off runs to put the Redskins in scoring situations. Without his work on the ground, the Redskins could have found themselves in a much different situation, something that's become a theme of the season early on.
“Adrian has been a big lift for us without a doubt,” head coach Jay Gruden said. “We are 4-2 and he is big a part of it.”
Like Bibbs, Peterson also has something to prove: That he can still be a dominant runner in the league. Despite currently sitting top-10 in rushing yards, questions about his age, durability and ability to perform for an entire season are constantly brought up. Every performance he puts out is still viewed as surprising to some. However, to him, there’s nothing shocking about what he puts out on the field.
“I think everyone else around is surprised; I’m not,” Peterson said. “I expect greatness from myself.”
Someone who isn’t surprised, besides AP himself, is his teammate Trent Williams. The offensive lineman has seen enough of Peterson over the years, playing with him in college and training in the offseason, to know what he brings to the table.
As soon as Peterson joined the Redskins a few months ago, Williams said that he knew the team was getting a strong running back no matter what the media had to say about the acquisition. In fact, knowing Peterson’s skills and seeing him prove it on the field again this season has left Williams wondering how the running back even fell to them in the first place.
“The thing about the NFL, I think a lot of people overthink stuff, over analyze stuff instead of just thinking, ‘if a guy can play he can play,’” Williams said. “You can't compare him to a guy who was 30 five years ago and expect the same results. He’s a different animal, a different kind of gene pool. He hit the gene pool lottery, I mean just look at him, he’s like a Greek sculpture, bruh.”
Bibbs has also taken notice of Peterson’s mystique. The running back is cherishing his time with Peterson, whether they are in meetings or talking as locker neighbors, as he tries to learn as much as he can from the veteran.
Specifically, Bibbs has taken notice in the way Peterson carries himself on the field. He describes it as a fearless type of aura, one that he is hoping to carry over into his own style of play.
“I found myself being a kid from Chicago in a three-bedroom house with 23 kids, I called myself fearless and roaming the streets of Chicago. And I watch a guy like that be fearless, it makes me go in there and be like, ‘I can be fearless too. I’m fearless, let's go in there and get the job done.’ So he’s a great mentor, he’s a great teammate, he’s a great athlete. He’s a hall-of-famer, first ballot.”
While Peterson and Bibbs may be on differents ends of their careers, Sunday marked a similar juncture for both -- with points to be proven, and production needed, both stepped up.
"We’re playmakers, you know,” Bibbs said. “So anytime you can get the ball in our hands it’s tremendous and great things are going to happen.”