Antonio Gibson was the Commanders’ starting running back last season, topped 1,000 rushing yards, and appeared to have a lock on the starting job for this season as well. And then Brian Robinson came along.
Robinson, a third-round rookie, has appeared to outplay Gibson on the practice field during training camp, and the Commanders made Robinson their starting running back in Saturday’s preseason game.
Perhaps even more significantly, the Commanders had Gibson back to return the opening kickoff. Gibson never played on special teams in either of his first two NFL seasons, but the Commanders putting him on special teams on Saturday is a strong suggestion that he’s going to need to contribute to the team in other ways because he’s not going to be the No. 1 running back anymore.
Robinson had eight carries for 31 yards on Saturday, while Gibson had just two carries for three yards, although he did add three catches for 37 yards. Based on preseason usage, Robinson may be the primary ball carrier, while Gibson is asked to play third downs and possibly return kicks.
Gibson fumbled in the preseason opener, drawing coach Ron Rivera’s ire, and Rivera also said he wants to see Gibson “run harder.” It now looks like Rivera has decided that Robinson is the man he wants carrying the load in his offense.