We recently wrote that the NFL player whose over/under season rushing yardage total at Caesars Sportsbook has risen the most is San Francisco 49ers quarterback Trey Lance, whose total went from 475.5 yards to 625.5. On the flip side, the player whose total has dropped the most is Washington Commanders running back Antonio Gibson, falling from 850.5 to 750.5 with heavy action on the Under.
After rushing for 795 yards on 170 carries in 14 games as a rookie surprise in 2020, Gibson, rushed 258 times for 1,037 yards in 16 games last year. Solid numbers.
By all accounts, the Commanders will be running the ball plenty this season because that's what head coach Ron Rivera and offensive coordinator Scott Turner like. Washington's 477 rush attempts last year were the 10th most in the league. There's also the fact that new starting QB Carson Wentz isn't exactly all that trustworthy.
However, by all accounts Gibson is having a rough August. In the Commanders' 23-21 home loss in the preseason opener on Saturday vs. Carolina, Gibson lost a fumble on his second carry of the game, which led to Panthers touchdown, and played significant snaps with the backups. Meanwhile rookie Brian Robinson looked pretty good with 26 yards and a TD on six carries. He was a third-round pick out of Alabama and is a +8000 long shot to win NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.
Fumbles were a major issue last year with Gibson. He had six of them, the most among non-quarterbacks.
"One of the first things we talk about when we get together as an offense when training camp started is protect the football," Turner said Tuesday. "We can't waste possessions. If you fumble the ball, that's a waste of possession. That's a ball carrier's first job. To protect the ball. We can't have that. (Antonio) knows that. I'm not saying anything to you guys that hasn't already been said to Antonio."
While Gibson has seen his reps during practice with the first-team offense, he also has been practicing not just with the third string but also with the punt coverage unit as one of the protectors behind the front line of blockers. In previous practices, Robinson had been holding down that spot.
As for whether there is a competition for the starting running back job, Rivera said, "There's always been a competition for the positions on this team."
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