While all eyes will be on the quarterback competition throughout training camp, one of the other positions of intrigue is running back.
Derrius Guice has returned. He’s been cleared to participate with no limitations and was on the field for snap one of camp.
“I was excited,” he said. “I’m ready for football. It’s been the longest year ever. To be back here with the guys, you know, I couldn’t be out there with them for OTAs and it killed me. I’m back out here ready to go.”
He tore his ACL in the first preseason game a year ago and missed his entire rookie season.
“It was the hardest thing I ever had to go through in life, period,” he said. “Doing what you love, finally making it to the NFL, and in the first game you’re out for the whole year. … It’s mind blowing.”
Guice did deal with a little bit of hamstring injury recently as he was preparing for camp. But that’s behind him, and he’s ready to prove the doubters wrong.
“I’ve got people saying ‘injury-prone’ and this and that,” he said. “I’m still 22. For a lot of people to come at me like they did … it’s not really helpful. Thank God for all the people that were on my side the whole year.”
One person that has been on his side has been Adrian Peterson. The veteran running back has been a good resource for Guice, seeing as Peterson defied all odds when he tore his ACL and MCL in the last game of the year in 2011, against the Redskins at FedEx Field.
Peterson was on the field to start the next season just nine months later.
“He does give me tips on what he did to help him recover,” Guice said. “He tells me ‘I think you should do extra X,Y and Z to help your knee out’ because he went through it as well.”
It’s been a long road back for Guice, and there have been times where the road has been a bit bumpy.
“With the ACL, it’s back and forth,” he said. “Some days, I feel ready, and the next day I’m sore. You have to stay on it to get it better. You have to go through pain in this game to get better. Pain is not always a bad sign. When you work it, you’re going to feel pain. And if you’re not working, you ought to be concerned if you’re not hurting.”
As far as balancing the pain while pushing himself and knowing when to pull back, “you have to know your body,” he said. “Your body tells you everything. It’s all about your recovery. AP teaches that to all of us, because it’s year 13 or 14 for him? He’s big on recovery.”
Peterson, in his 13th season, doesn’t only help him in the rehab department. It happens often on and off the field as well.
“AP is AP. He tells you things to teach you stuff,” Guice said. “We all looked up to him growing up, so we’re going to watch him anyway. Him being him is helpful enough. When he’s in on the plays, we’re watching his cuts, everything. When we’re in the film room, we watch him. We respect him so much, because we know he’s the [greatest of all time].”
In the end, Guice learned one important thing about himself during all of this.
“I’m a strong son of a gun … mentally,” he said. “Overcoming everything I’ve had to overcome with the whole draft process last year, and that happened in the first game. A lot of guys wouldn’t be able to handle all that at a young age, having to go through all that adversity. I’m really a strong mentally guy.”
He has had a long road to recovery and is willing to do whatever is needed to help this team win. With Guice back — along with Peterson and Chris Thompson — the backfield can be dangerous.
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