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

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

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.”

 

Timeline

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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