After missing the last two preseason games with a low-ankle sprain and falling behind in the competition for spots on the depth chart, running back Chris Thompson will play Thursday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and aims to make up for lost time.
Thompson on Tuesday went through a second straight day of full practice and said that he feels good. The second-year pro, if healthy, could fill a key role as a change-of-pace back and receiver out of the backfield.
But he saw only a limited amount of action in the preseason opener before he injured his ankle, and he hasn’t played since.
Meanwhile, fourth-year pro Evan Royster and rookies Lache Seastrunk and Silas Redd have gotten opportunities to showcase their skills.
With Saturday’s cutdown day approaching, Thompson feels a great sense of urgency to perform at a high level, and to prove he can emerge from the game healthy. He said he embraces this pressure-filled situation.
“I love it. it’s kind of how it’s been my whole life, so I’m ready to go,” Thompson said. “I’ve just got to go out there and make some plays, whether that’s special teams offense, third down situations. I’ve just got to embrace it. … I’m not worried at all. I’ve just got to get my mind right, really. It starts now, and just trying to calm down for the moment and when game time comes around, it’s on.”
The Redskins love Thompson’s speed and elusiveness, as well as his pass-catching ability. But his lack of durability raises concerns. Thompson missed all but four games last season with a torn labrum in his shoulder, missed time during his senior year at Florida State because of a torn ACL, and missed a lot of his junior season because of a broken back.
Redskins coach Jay Gruden said although Thompson has an impressive skillset, the main thing the team’s talent evaluators need to see from him is an ability to stay healthy.
“One of the top traits a running back has to have, my dad told me a long time ago, is durability,” Gruden said. “He’s got to show us he can play healthy. He might have to play through some pains and nicks and knacks for us to count on him on a Sunday afternoon. This is a big game for Chris.”
Thompson understands that emerging from the game healthy carries as much importance as does his on-field production.
“It’s very important. … I’ve just got to show them I can make it through some games, and I will show them that,” Thompson said. “I’ve been hurt a lot, so I can make it through some pain. I’m going to make sure I finish this game out.”