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Commanders' Ron Rivera Backs Antonio Gibson: 'We're Going to Give Him the Football'

Rob Goldberg@@TheRobGoldbergFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 7, 2022

Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

Washington Commanders head coach Ron Rivera still believes in Antonio Gibson despite an up-and-down preseason.

"I trust him," Rivera told reporters Wednesday. "We're going to give him the football. I have no issue with that."

Gibson has been Washington's clear leading rusher in each of his first two seasons, totaling 1,832 rushing yards, 541 receiving yards and 21 total touchdowns in this stretch. His 258 carries last year ranked fourth in the NFL, and he was one of just seven players to reach 1,000 rushing yards.

Despite Gibson's past production, there were questions about his role heading into 2022.

Rookie third-round pick Brian Robinson emerged as a star in training camp and started at running back during his team's second preseason game against the Kansas City Chiefs. Gibson was used as a kick returner that game, and Rivera later said he will have the returner role during the season.

It's uncommon for a team to risk its starting running back on special teams.

Gibson also continued to struggle with fumbles in the preseason after losing it six times in 2021, the most among non-quarterbacks.

This appeared to put Robinson ahead of Gibson on the depth chart, but Robinson was shot twice in an attempted robbery on Aug. 28. He was placed on the reserve/non-football injury list that will keep him out for at least the first four weeks of the season.

Even with positive updates about Robinson's health, the Commanders will still need Gibson at least until the rookie returns to the field.

J.D. McKissic will likely remain a key part of the offense as a pass-catcher and change-of-pace back, but it's clear Gibson will get a lot of touches at the start of the year.

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