While most of the attention heading toward Washington Redskins training camp will be on the quarterbacks, the running backs gear up for a tight battle of their own.
Adrian Peterson is set to be lead dog, but the Redskins believe the competition for carries will buoy the group. Derrius Guice, coming off a torn ACL, is expected to be ready for training camp, and if he's regained the form he showed last offseason could carve out a big role. Chris Thompson, who dealt with an injury-marred 2018, should play the pass-catching role once again, and with questions at receiver, that function could be vital. Rookie Bryce Lovelikely won't be ready for the start of the season, but down the road could siphon off carries. And 23-year-old Samaje Perine remains a backup option.
When healthy, the group looks deep on paper. There is a chance the competition could upset the apple cart, especially given the fact that Peterson is not a back that generally shares the load. The coaching staff, however, believes the competition will bring out the best all around.
"It's upped our game, and those guys get a little bit upset when all of the sudden a guy gets a couple of reps and they're looking at me like, 'Coach, when is my turn?'" running backs coach Randy Jordan said, per the team's official website. "It makes it easy to coach when you've got a good room like that."
Added Jordan: "You want those guys that are really, really excited and take that to heart, like, 'Hey, I want to be the guy.'"
Jordan has insisted a 50/50 or 60/40 split between Peterson and Guice would be ideal, even if All Day has never shared the load successfully in that manner. If Thompson stays healthy, the Redskins have a formula for a running back committee that could do damage.
"Hopefully we have balance. That's always the key," coach Jay Gruden said. "When we were effective last year with Alex [Smith] early in the season, it's because we were moving the football, making our third downs, mixing in the run, pass and play action. That's when most offenses are at their best."