RICHMOND—Second-year running back Chris Thompson uses his speed and elusiveness to effortlessly shed defenders. Shaking his reputation as an injury prone player, well, that has proven to be much more difficult.
Thompson is currently nursing a sprained ankle that he suffered in the Redskins’ preseason opener last week. The timing couldn't be worse. He's locked in tight position battle and every practice rep he misses is a rep that goes to a player that’s trying to take his job.
“I just want it so bad, man,” Thompson said after sitting out a third straight practice Monday. “I can’t explain it. Every day it’s just killing me not to be out here. I know sometimes we say it’s just practice. But every day is a new opportunity, especially for me. It’s a new opportunity for me to showcase my skills. To be out again, even for a couple of days, it’s pretty frustrating.”
Coach Jay Gruden is frustrated, too.
“It’s disappointing,” Gruden said. “It’s unfortunate for him because he was progressing very well and he needs the reps to do what we’re going to ask him to do on game day. And if he’s not available to get these reps, it’s going to hurt his progress. Injuries happen, unfortunately to him it seems like more often than not. He’s got to figure out a way to stay healthy. But he’s got to get back on the field, there’s no question about it. He is in a tight battle.”
As Gruden noted, Thompson has a history with injuries. It was a history he was hoping to rewrite. Right now, though, that history is repeating itself.
The 5 foot 7, 193-pound speedster saw his final two seasons at Florida State end early due to back and ACL injuries, respectively. Last season with the Redskins, a torn labrum in his shoulder cut his rookie season short.
And now this.
“It was me not being smart,” Thompson said of how he got hurt. “It was third and 14. I caught a five-yard pass. No chance of getting the first down, if you see it on film. But I was still just steady trying to fight for extra yards. I kept trying to fight for yards and the guy, a corner, and …he fell on my ankle.”
He added: “It’s a good thing to keep trying to fight. But then again, you have to be smart in certain situations. Honestly, that’s where all my injuries have come from. I don’t want to starting getting soft, and not try to make those big plays. But I have to be smarter.”
Thompson said he and Gruden have talked about the importance of being available and not missing time. Interestingly, two of the players Thompson is battling are also nursing minor injuries. Lache Seastrunk is practicing through a right foot injury, while Silas Redd has missed the last two days with a sprained ankle.
“He said a little bit to me,” Thompson said of his chat with Gruden. “But I’m sure he can see that I’m not happy being [hurt]. But at the same time, I just have to stay healthy so I can get those reps, get better at what he would want me to do on Sundays—let’s say [if] I do make the team.”
Thompson indicated that he’ll probably miss Tuesday’s practice, as well, before reevaluating the situation when the team returns to Redskins Park for practice on Thursday.
“I know I can play through a lot of pain,” Thompson said. “I have before. But I have to be smart. I can probably go out and jog right now and hit a sprint here and there. But that’s not smart to do at this point.”