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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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In case you missed it

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Redskins-Cardinals injury report: Reed out, seven questionable

Redskins-Cardinals injury report: Reed out, seven questionable

Redskins

Out

TE Jordan Reed (shoulder)—The word heroic is thrown around too often when talking about what athletes do, in light if what, say, first responders do every day. But Reed playing in the second half out of the Dallas game with a third-degree AC joint sprain certainly was remarkable. But Gruden said that Reed won’t have sufficient range of motion in the shoulder or range of motion to be able to go against the Cardinals.

DE Anthony Lanier (leg)—The reserve lineman missed the second half of the Dallas game with a leg contusion. Gruden said he was kicked in the lower leg against the Cowboys and the swelling is still an issue.

Questionable

LS Nick Sundberg (back)—He tweaked his back in the weight room before the Packers game and missed that game and the one against the Cowboys. He was a full go in practice all week and will return against the Cardinals.

G Brandon Scherff (ankle)—He has been limited in practice during the week but it seems certain that he will go against the Cardinals.

T Ty Nsekhe (ankle)—Ditto comment on Scherff above.

CB Bashaud Breeland (ankle)—He suffered the injury in practice this week and he was limited in practice on Thursday.

RB Chris Thompson (illness)—He was limited in practice during the week but he said in the locker room he will have his usual role on Sunday.

Also questionable for the Redskins: ILB Terence Garvin (shoulder) and DE Ricky Jean Francois (knee)

Cardinals

Check back for the Cardinals injury update after they release their report later this afternoon.

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Jordan Reed ruled out for Redskins vs. Cardinals; Vernon Davis set for start

Jordan Reed ruled out for Redskins vs. Cardinals; Vernon Davis set for start

After separating his shoulder against the Cowboys on Thanksgiving, Jordan Reed has officially been ruled out for the Redskins game in Arizona. 

Friday, coach Jay Gruden said Reed doesn't have sufficient range of motion to play against the Cardinals but remains hopeful he'll be healthy for the following game against the Eagles. Reed estimated that range was at about 30 percent Monday.

The decision to sit Reed against the Cardinals comes with little surprise. The 'Skins star tight end did not practice all week, even after having a few extra days to rest after the game last Thursday.

Playing without Reed is obviously a blow to the Washington offense, but No. 2 tight end Vernon Davis has been a strong development for Gruden's team this year. Thursday, Gruden and offensive coordinator Sean McVay said that while losing Reed is a blow to the unit, the team can run almost all of the same plays and sets with Davis that they can with Reed. 

"Fortunately you’re in a situation where you feel really good about your tight end in Vernon Davis where he’s playing at an extremely high level in both phases in the run and in the pass game," McVay said.

As good as Davis has been, he's not the dynamic threat Reed presents. In the second half against Dallas — while playing with the injured shoulder — Reed hauled in two touchdowns and played arguably the best football of his career.

On the season Reed has 59 catches for 630 yards and five touchdowns despite missing two games earlier this year dealing with a concussion.

Davis has played in all 11 games this season and has 31 catches for 450 yards and two TDs. 

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