The player in all white at the Redskins’ fifth training camp practice already stood out against the backdrop of teammates in burgundy pants. Then all that white briefly turned into a blur on the left sideline, legs firing like pistons.
This was the Chris Thompson fans are desperate to see.
The Florida State product continues to work his way back from a fractured fibula that ended his 2017 season after 10 games. He’s finally reestablishing himself as a dangerous weapon out of the backfield, particularly in passing situations. Tuesday was the most work Thompson has received in training camp as coaches ease him back on the field.
“Was a little nervous just getting out there at first,” Thompson said. “Overall it felt good. As I continued to get going, I kind of got in my groove again and was able to go out and make some plays. I was fine.”
Thompson’s best moment Tuesday came on a misdirection screen to the left in which Alex Smith tossed the ball a bit high toward his running back. Thompson was able to tip it to himself, gain control and turn up the sideline. The sight in front of him was green grass — and 300-plus-pound linemen.
Thompson later caught a touchdown from Colt McCoy down near the 10-yard line. He came out of the backfield, gave linebacker Josh Harvey-Clemons a shimmy to get open and caught a slant to score.
“A touchdown,” Thompson replied when asked what he saw on the screen. “O-line did a great job blocking the corner and that was the only guy that was out there. The safety was on the far hash.
“I would think in a game-time situation he wouldn’t catch me. But last year I did get caught by [Oakland’s} David Amerson, so I don’t know. I guess I’m not as fast as I thought I was. I think I would’ve had a chance to score on that screen play.”
There is a bit of discussion of how fast Thompson is. He appears plenty quick and fast, with that burst he’s known for. He doesn’t necessarily feel that way though.
“Little bit, not completely just yet,” Thompson said. “But everybody’s telling me I look fast and I look quick, so I’ll take their word for it.
“Like the doctors told me, it’ll probably be 18 months [from the initial injury] before I’m feeling like myself again. If I look good to them right now, I’ll take that.”
Thompson expects to continue to be limited at practice, but believes he’ll receive a similar amount of action in the next couple sessions before increasing his workload. The Redskins need him to be a versatile, change-of-pace back, part of an expected 1-2 punch with rookie Derrius Guice, for the offense to reach its potential in 2018.
“When you’re talking about your best players Chris and Jordan [Reed] and Trent [Williams] and Morgan [Moses] and some of these guys,” Coach Jay Gruden said before practice, “they got to get out there and practice, but it’s sometimes you just want to treat them like a china doll. You’re like, ‘Oh, please don’t get hit.’ But eventually they’re going to have to put the pads on and practice.
“And Chris is getting to a point right now, we’re going to put him in some team periods today, watch the reps he has and the defense will take good care of him because they know what kind of value he has to this football team. But, he’s coming along great and I anticipate him being full go sooner than later.”
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