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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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Redskins' decision on Su'a Cravens doesn't change much immediately

Redskins' decision on Su'a Cravens doesn't change much immediately

When the Redskins announced that safety Su’a Cravens has been placed on the reserve/left team list, ending his 2017 season, some things changed. But mostly, in the short term anyway, things stayed the same.

Before diving into this, let’s acknowledge that Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk is reporting that Cravens was going to show up at Redskins Park today and the Redskins put him on the reserve/left team list “out of the blue” and without the five-day notice that the team is required to give the player before putting him on that list. A grievance is a possibility. We will follow that aspect of it carefully but for now, we don’t know much about it and will let Florio’s report stand on its own.

What does not change now is the Redskins’ roster. Since he was on the exempt/left team list he did not count against the 53-man roster. The Redskins started Deshazor Everett at strong safety Week 1 against the Eagles and rookie Montae Nicholson got the nod Sunday against the Rams. It is likely that one of those two gets the start for the rest of the year.

RELATED: MUST-SEE PHOTOS FROM REDSKINS' WIN IN LA

Had Cravens reported the Redskins would have had to make a roster move to make room for him. When he left the team right after final cuts were made, offensive tackle T.J. Clemmings was picked up on waivers. He presumably is the 53rd man on the roster but he is safe for now.

So, what changes? The Redskins save some money. Cravens was slated to make $651,408 in salary this year. The money was guaranteed; however, leaving the team voided that guarantee. The team also could send him a bill for $335,631, the one-year prorated portion of his $1.422 million signing bonus he got last year.

It should be noted that the financial aspects of this are pending any grievance proceedings. If the Redskins did not give Cravens proper notice and he reports for work, he could make the case that he is entitled to his money. But, again, that is something that we’ll see about in the coming days and weeks.

MORE REDSKINS: INJURY LIST LONG, PAINFUL BUT NONE SERIOUS

Cravens’ status will be a topic of discussion during Jay Gruden’s podium session and in the locker room on Wednesday. But after that, the focus will return to playing the Raiders and the whole saga will go on the back burner.

What happens after this year? As far as I can gather, the reserve/left team list only applies to the 2017 season. If Cravens follows the terms of his contract and reports for work when required in 2018 the Redskins would have to either let him play, release him, or trade him.

But that is down the road. For now, the Redskins will move on as though he is out for the season with an injury and play with the guys they have.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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Need to Know: Last look at Redskins vs. Rams

Need to Know: Last look at Redskins vs. Rams

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, September 19, five days before the Washington Redskins play the Raiders at FedEx Field.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: No media availability

Days until:

—Monday night Redskins @ Chiefs (10/2) 13
—Monday night Redskins @ Eagles (11/23) 24
—Cowboys @ Redskins (10/29) 40

Last look at Redskins vs. Rams

—Before the game, I confidently told someone on Twitter that Ryan Grant would get about as many targets (6) against the Rams as he did against the Eagles. But as it turned out, Grant was targeted just twice. The second time was on the game-winning touchdown in the last two minutes. A big difference between this week and last was that Kirk Cousins attempted just 27 passes against LA compared to 40 vs. the Eagles. That led to fewer opportunities for receivers and Grant was one of those who saw his chances drop the most.

—Cousins started well and finished strong but he didn’t do much in the middle. It seems that he was rolling along well until he misfired on a fade pattern to Josh Doctson and then on another throw to Chris Thompson. That ended a goal to go opportunity in a situation where a touchdown would have given the Redskins a commanding 17-0 lead. The next time the Redskins had the ball Cousins was sacked on his first passing attempt and he fumbled a snap a little later. In the third quarter and early in the fourth he completed some passes but many of them were for a minimal gain. To his credit, he didn’t panic and force a turnover. And, of course, he came through on the final drive, completing three of three passes for 42 yards including the 11-yard game winner to Grant.

—During the week leading up to the game, Jay Gruden emphasized the importance of getting to the quarterback. It didn’t play out as well as I’m sure Gruden would have liked. They got two sacks of Jared Goff, one by Preston Smith and one by Ryan Kerrigan, both in the Rams’ possession late in the first half. They pressured Goff on other occasions but overall their pass rush possibly was not as good as it was against the Eagles. Then, they at least got to Carson Wentz even though they had issues bringing him down. Too often, Goff had plenty of time to operate and that helped keep the Rams in the game until near the end.

—Chris Thompson has been the Redskins’ offensive MVP so far. He has improved each year and yesterday he was at his peak. What you really had to like on the 61-yard touchdown run on the draw play was his patience. He was almost standing still as he took the handoff from Cousins as he carried out the pass-blocking fake and chose his path for when he got the ball. He said that the play was designed for him to go one way but his read took him someplace else. It took him to the end zone for the second time that game.

—One surprise early in the game was that Montae Nicholson started at strong safety in place of DeShazor Everett. Nicholson made no glaring errors before he left the game with an AC joint sprain. The depth chart here apparently is set after the team announced that Su'a Cravens, the starter until he left the team to contemplate retirement, will not return this season. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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