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Need to Know: Has Thompson locked up the Redskins’ third-down back job?

Aug 9, 2015, 5:51 AM EDT


Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, August 9, four days before Washington Redskins open their preseason against the Browns in Cleveland.

If you need to catch up on what’s happening in Richmond, scroll to the bottom for a list of our posts from the last 24 hours. 

Has Thompson locked up the Redskins’ third-down back job?

RICHMOND—When Roy Helu left as a free agent March, the Redskins started to look for a new third-down back.

As things are turning out perhaps the Redskins didn’t have to look very far.

They drafted running back Chris Thompson in the fifth round in 2013. Despite possessing impressive speed, Thompson slid in the draft due to the issues he had staying healthy. Those issues continued for his first two years in the league, allowing him very limited playing time.

But this year Thompson has not missed a practice and is impressing Jay Gruden.

“I think Chris Thompson is really starting to emerge as a third-down back, if we can obviously keep him healthy,” said Gruden. “He’s done an excellent both in the running game and the passing game and he’s done an excellent job in protection so far.”

The Florida State product has been impressive both running the ball, displaying good quickness and a knack for being able to find open spaces, and catching passes out of the backfield.

Last year Thompson had a chance to make the team but he wound up on the practice squad for all but the last three games of the season.

“The one thing that’s different from last year is that I’m really not pressing and worrying about it too much,” he said. “I spoke about not worrying about it last year but I really didn’t mean it. This year, I’m really not pressing so hard about it. I’m just coming out here, doing what I know I can do best, continuing to get better, and let it go from there.”

Thompson knows that he will have to make the most of limited opportunities if he should win the job.

“Being that third down guy, you’ve got to make something happen while getting 10 or less touches,” he said. “That’s one of the things I’m focusing on every day when I’m out here, when I get a rep I want to make it a good one.”

Right now it looks like rookie Matt Jones is Thompson’s main competition for the third-down role with another rookie, Trey Williams, coming in as a dark horse. But Jones appears to be headed for a role to get some carries in relief of Alfred Morris and Williams has a lot to learn.

When the third-down back isn’t carrying the ball or catching a pass he is usually pass blocking. Thompson is very proud of the progress he has made in that area since coming into the league.

“I’m way more confident about it,” he said. “[Running backs] Coach [Randy] Jordan has been helping me for almost two years now. He’s told me he’s seen my improvement and I can see it also with my leverage and everything. I think that comes with me having more confidence in my body. I was a little bit worried about the shoulder coming into training camp last year but now I’m not worrying about injuries because I can’t control that stuff.”



Today’s schedule: Off day

—It’s been 224 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be 35 days until they play the Dolphins at FedEx Field.

Days until: Preseason opener @ Browns 4; final cuts 27; Redskins @ Giants Thursday night 46

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In case you missed it

  1. Capital Defense - Aug 9, 2015 at 7:39 AM

    Ut oh… Rich went there and wrote an article about him doing well,,, The ultimate jinx Ha Ha

    Just kidding

    Fingers crossed

  2. sidepull - Aug 9, 2015 at 7:56 AM

    I don’t think the “who is going to be the third down back” saga will be over until we see who is still standing after preseason games. A small gauntlet for CT to make it through healthy. Good luck to him because he has the skills.

  3. abanig - Aug 9, 2015 at 8:10 AM

    Too early to know

  4. donald truax - Aug 9, 2015 at 8:26 AM

    Go skins let’s have a good season

  5. hk2000 - Aug 9, 2015 at 9:19 AM

    Not worrying about it is the best attitude, and that goes for a lot more than just injuries. Life is full of mysteries, not the least of which is ‘mind over body’, at least to some extent, the more you worry about something the more likely you’ll experience a negative physical manifestation of that worry. OK enough psychoanalysis. Seriously I really hope he makes it, we need a speedy back who can block- that is a rare combination.

  6. gonavybeatarmy - Aug 9, 2015 at 10:25 AM

    All things being equal, having Thompson assume a real role on the team potentially- or at least a viable replacement for Helu-takes some of the stink off the final Shanahan draft. Of course, a past draft pick is a sunken cost, so good teams just move on from a poor pick. But, if the Skins ultimately net out three long term contributors from the 2013 draft that again lacked a first round pick that’s not an awful draft. Of course, as we all know, Reed needs to remain healthy. And Amerson needs to not be a bust. Even if Amerson ultimately becomes just the slot corner or quality depth he’d be an asset.

    By the way Rich, what’s the scoop on Amerson, please? There’s lots information and analysis on Culliver, Breeland and Hall, but seemingly less so on Amerson.

    • Rich Tandler - Aug 9, 2015 at 11:17 AM

      Amerson has been out with that AC sprain for several days now so not much to report.

  7. John - Aug 9, 2015 at 2:30 PM

    Definitely think Chris Thompson is the best catcher out of the backfield right now based on what I have seen in camp so far. Jones will need more time to develop before he is given that important role. It is critical for the Skins to be much more efficient on third downs this year. I think with Thompsons speed he will be another weapon for defenses to contend with. With Thomoson, Crowder, Reed, Garçon, and Desean to throw to it is hard to imagine the Skins struggling on third down.

  8. redskinsnameisheretostay - Aug 9, 2015 at 4:22 PM

    Where are the fans carrying the cut Thompson now banner?

    Kidding aside, I’m happy for Thompson and would love to see him overcome the all injury hurdles. I know it’s still early and situations can change real quick. However, if you believe in Matt Jones this year based on the sample of runs he had in Florida then you should do the same with Thompson since he was even more impressive totting the ball at Florida State. Thompson has had much more serious injuries than Jones. It’d take a least a season of no injury to even convince me he is a worthy long term Redskin.

  9. colorofmyskinz - Aug 9, 2015 at 8:20 PM

    Great to hear niles Paul has eclipsed Reed in the starting line up. The additional size and desire to block I am sure is what did it. Reed wouldn’t block a punter if he was in front of him. Reed would be much better off losing 25 pounds and moving to WR.

    • abanig - Aug 9, 2015 at 10:02 PM

      When did Paul move ahead of Reed in the depth chart?

    • redskinsnameisheretostay - Aug 10, 2015 at 9:02 AM

      That position has little meaning. As long as Reed can stay healthy, he’ll be the primary passing target at TE. I’m happy to see all the hard work Paul has put in transitioning to TE pay off. However, he’ll never be what Reed is catching the ball at TE. Reed is just to talented after the catch to not have him on the field when healthy. Moving Reed to WR doesn’t make any sense to me. His size and running ability after the catch make him a potential elite talent at TE.

      • abanig - Aug 10, 2015 at 9:13 AM

        While I appreciate Reed’s athletic ability to make tough catches and turn into basically a running back after the catch, we need to also realize that Niles Paul has the speed of a kick returner and speed/ability as a former Wr to also make plays after the catch. Niles yards per catch average is 4 more than Reed’s, 3 more than Garçon’s & a 1/2 a yards more than Roberts’.

        Niles Paul is the second best yards per reception player on our offense behind only Jackson. So, if we got the ball to him more, in theory we’d gain more yards.

        • redskinsnameisheretostay - Aug 10, 2015 at 2:16 PM

          Valid points abanig but I just don’t think you’ll see Paul ahead of Reed in those statistics when Reed is 100%. It’s completely true that Reed must prove he can stay healthy. If he does, I just think Reed is the better passing option. Paul has speed but he is not fast enough to outrun DBs where Reed has better hands and is just a more gifted runner IMO. Regardless, I’ll be happy to watch both sharing the load on reception if it comes to it.

    • redskinsnameisheretostay - Aug 10, 2015 at 9:04 AM

      Why no appreciation for Thompson recent ascension? This is what the article really about. Are you still wanting him cut like a month ago?

      • abanig - Aug 10, 2015 at 9:18 AM

        There is truth in the statement that Thompsok does this every year in the offseason but then gets hurt eventually.

        Let’s hope that doesn’t happe , but that’s been his m/o since his sophomore year of college. The guy just doesn’t finish football seasons.

        • redskinsnameisheretostay - Aug 10, 2015 at 2:19 PM

          There is truth to Thompson injury history which were severe enough in college to take years to fully recover. However, I still need zero gain in cutting him with the broad assumption that he can’t recover. That guy could flat out run at Florida State and I’ll state it again reminded me of Tiki Barber only more aggressive which may have led to those injuries.

        • abanig - Aug 10, 2015 at 3:16 PM

          Some players are just injury prone and from 2011-2014 that’s been Chris Thompson’s MO.

          Thompson is 3 inches shorter and 12-15 pounds lighter than even Tiki Barber and so that could be why he’s struggled with injuries while Barber didnt. Archives

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