Sharing the same roster as the 2020 AP NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, Washington's Antonio Gibson still commanded some spotlight all his own in his debut campaign.
A dual-threat wide receiver at Memphis selected in the third round by the Washington Football Team, Gibson offered versatility and promise that turned into production as a running back.
Gibson was slowed last season by turf toe and much of the season teamed with wide receiver Terry McLaurin to provide Washington the only pizzazz in an otherwise punchless offense.
Entering his second season and taking part in his first organized team activities, Gibson has pronounced that both those ills have been remedied with his toe healed up and the offense reinvigorated and revamped.
"I'm super excited. Towards the end of last] year I feel like when I started to get a hold of things, that’s when the injury came along and slowed me down a little bit,” Gibson said, [via NBC Sports Washington’s Jordan Giorgio. "This year we picked up a lot of new guys and they can play, they're showing that out on the field the past few weeks on the offensive side and defensive side."
A good deal of Gibson's rookie success came at the expense of the archrival Cowboys, as he blasted off with a season-high 125 yards rushing in a Week 7 walloping and ran for another 115 yards and a trio of touchdowns in a Thanksgiving thumping. He would finish the season well, too, but in between finding his stride and finishing strong, he was tripped up by turf toe.
"It's fine, when I'm out there I'm running, I'm making my cuts, jumping whatever I need to do," he said. "Of course, it still gets sore but every day I'm still out there running, so it's not a problem on the field. It's just something I'm going to have to take care of. Other than that I'm completely fine."
Being completely fine would've been a lofty aspiration for the 2020 WFT offense. Other than a 41-point showing in the Turkey Day trouncing of the Cowboys, Washington never tallied more than 27 points in a game. Gibson and McLaurin combined for 15 of the team's meager 34 touchdowns.
With the free-agent additions of veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and versatile wide receiver Curtis Samuel and the drafting of wideout Dyami Brown highlighting a revamped offense, there is newfound enthusiasm.
"We got a lot of weapons, I feel like we got a lot of deep threats and that's going to do nothing but open it up for me and for the offense," Gibson said. "I feel like we're going to be something to deal with."
It's still June obviously and hope is in ample supply for all 32 teams. There's also an opportunity for Gibson and other second-year players to take in an offseason of work they weren't afforded a year ago due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As the country closes in on returning to normal, Gibson and his fellow 2020 rookie class are getting a taste of a normal NFL spring and summer.
"This is a time we didn't have last year so I feel like it's very helpful," Gibson said. "To get a good start and rhythm going into training camp. I'm enjoying this period because I didn't have this last year, so it's actually helping me out a lot."
With a tenacious defense led by that aforementioned DROY Chase Young, Washington's looking for its offense to take a big step forward and a healthier and more experienced Gibson believes the Football Team's on the right track.