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Making The Leap: Antonio Gibson Has Eyes On 1,000 Yards

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Antonio Gibson hasn't given us his full list of his goals yet -- he wants most of them to be a surprise -- but he did give fans a peek into one milestone on Washington Football Today: he has his eyes on 1,000 rushing yards.

"That was something I really wanted [last year]," Gibson told Senior Vice President of Media and Content Julie Donaldson. "This year, I'm priding myself on surpassing that."

Gibson was well on his way to doing that during his 2020 campaign. He had 659 yards in the first 12 games before injuring his toe against the Steelers, which forced him to miss the next two matchups. He returned for the final two games, but he fell 205 yards short.

Gibson is back to full strength now, and he's ready to take another step in his development. The progress he has made, as well as having traditional OTAs and minicamp, should make crossing the 1,000-yard mark easier in Year 2.

"I should be able to show a lot of different things this year," Gibson said.

After the season ended, Gibson began training at EXOS in Dallas to continue rehabbing his toe and work on other aspects of his game. He worked with them when he was preparing for last year's draft, so he was already comfortable with them. Their process must have worked, because Gibson was at practice showing the same quickness and ability to cut and juke that fans have come to expect from him.

As important as Gibson's health is, how he has developed in the scheme is just as crucial. It's night and day, said running backs coach Randy Jordan, compared to when he first got live reps in last year's training camp. He has a better grasp of the offense from a schematic standpoint, and that showed as his average yards per carry rose from 3.9 yard in his first five games to 5.1 in his last nine appearances.

"Last year was a learning process for me," Gibson said. "I got the hang of it as the season went on and I started showing progress."

Gibson has shown he can handle all the larger concepts of the position, but if he wants to become the second Washington rusher to surpass 1,000 yards in seven years, he'll need to continue focusing on the minute details that Jordan says he has already improved upon. It's things like learning the point of attack, not guessing where the ball should be placed and adapting when a play breaks down that add yardage to each carry.

Most of that comes from repetition, and Jordan has seen all those aspects work in harmony in Gibson's game. On one particular play in OTAs, he pressed the line scrimmage before making a cut outside. It was only a five-yard gain, but last year Gibson would have made the cut immediately for a two-yard gain.

"Those are little things that I see in his overall growth as a running back," Jordan said. "Knowing schematically what we're trying to do in the run game."

The finer details of the position were never something Gibson had to worry about too much at Memphis. Most of his experience at running back involved his coaches showing him one play and them teaching him how to run it. One hundred and seventy NFL carries later -- nearly triple what he had at Memphis -- he has a much better understanding of the ins and outs of his role as well as how to set up defenses.

Gibson feels like he's on the verge of another step, but there's still a lot to learn. Seeing as head coach Ron Rivera expects another leap from him this year, he knows his coaches are going to keep pushing him.

"I expect nothing less than for them to be on me about the little things," Gibson said. "Last year was a learning process, and this year, I should be on my toes. I should know what to do, and I feel like I do."

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