Redskins running back Derrius Guice has been placed on Injured Reserve, ending his season just four games after returning from a torn meniscus.
Guice, who had rushed for 227 yards in the four games since his return, was injured on a 23-yard run in the second quarter of Sunday's game against the Green Bay Packers. Interim head coach Bill Callahan initially ruled him out only against the Philadelphia Eagles this weekend, but Guice's MRI results were enough to convince the organization to shut him down for the rest of the season.
"I know what he's been through, and that's the last thing he needs," Adrian Peterson said after the Packers game. "I told him to take the positive side of things. It could have been worse."
The injury is a heavy blow to a Redskins team that is trying to end the season on a positive note. After starting with a 1-9 record, they won two out of their last three games, with Guice's workload increasing each week.
Despite only playing five games, Guice is the Redskins' second-leading rusher with 245 yards on 42 carries, averaging 5.8 yards per rush.
"This guy's upbeat, he's positive, he's got more energy than the entire building, so it isn't going to hamper him or stifle him or hold him back by any means," Callahan said on Monday. "But I know this: he'll put everything into the rehabilitation that he needs to."
The injury is especially frustrating because Guice was starting to show signs that he was every bit of the back the Redskins expected him to be when they drafted him in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft. Guice was averaging 7.1 yards per rush and had three total touchdowns.
After rushing for 74 yards against the New York Jets and Detroit Lions combined, Guice nearly doubled that against the Carolina Panthers with 129 yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries. Among NFL running back with at least 30 carries, he currently ranks first with an average of 5.07 yards after contact, beating out Jonathon Williams (4.14), Derrick Henry (4.12) and Tony Pollard (3.91).
"Everybody knows about my fall in the draft, and then as soon as I got here, injury after injury," Guice said after the Panthers game Dec. 1. "It's been hell, literally. I'm just really strong mentally and I just didn't let the outside noise get to me."
Guice tore his ACL in the 2018 preseason, forcing him to miss his entire rookie campaign. Following an offseason of recovery, he made his professional debut in the 2019 season opener against the Philadelphia Eagles, only to suffer a torn miniscus that sidelined him for the next two months.
He returned to practice seven weeks later and was put on the active roster against the Jets. Rather than thrust him back into offensive game plan, Callahan wanted to ease Guice back to avoid overloading him.
"We're still monitoring his conditioning level as he works back into football," Callahan said the week Guice returned to practice. "It was great to see him work at the level he did."
Guice only touched the ball eight times in his first game back against the Jets, but he still brought a new dimension to the offense with 70 total yards, including a screen pass that went 45 yards for the Redskins' first touchdown in four games.
His breakout game came two weeks later against the Panthers when he had 60- and 37-yard runs, both of which led to point for the offense. He accounted for 35% of the team's total yards on offense and scored two of its three touchdowns in that game.
Since Week 11, Guice has scored three of the offense's six touchdowns. With Peterson still playing well, the combination of the two backs made for a formidable duo.
"It's a spark," Peterson said after the Panthers game. "I want him to be successful. That's what he needs, coming off how the last two years played out for him. I'm always rooting for him. I want him to know that, 'Hey, I'm in your corner, man. We can do this together.'"
It looked like Guice was going to carry that success over against the Packers, as he started the Redskins' second drive of the second quarter with four rushes for 41 yards. On the fourth, he broke free down the right sideline for 23 yards before he was brought down, resulting in his injury.
Once the game was over, teammates expressed their support for Guice, knowing how frustrated he must have been after missing the entire second half. All of them also added that they're confident he'll make a full recovery.
"He'll be OK," said quarterback Dwayne Haskins. "I know he's a tough guy, and he'll come back stronger."
Guice is good spirits despite starting his NFL career with three knee injuries in two seasons. He hasn't released a public statement since he was injured, but he has been active and optimistic on Twitter.
In addition to placing Guice on Injured Reserve, there were a number of other roster moves Tuesday. The NFL placed CB Simeon Thomas on the reserve/suspended list, while the Redskins activated CB Danny Johnson from the physically unable to perform (PUP) list, signed RB Josh Ferguson from the practice squad and added RB Derrick Gore and LB Peter Robertson to the practice squad.