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Need to Know: Will Thompson remain in the mix for the Redskins?

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Need to Know: Will Thompson remain in the mix for the Redskins?

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, October 8, one day before the Washington Redskins play the Atlanta Falcons.

Saturday mailbag

Some good questions from Twitter and the Real Redskins Facebook page this week so let’s dive right in.

Johnson came in thinking he would be handed the starting job at strong safety. That was his first mistake. He got a strong challenge from Duke Ihenacho and he never really responded to it. A hamstring injury in training camp clinched the job for Ihenacho and let Trenton Robinson get past him on the depth chart, in position to get the job when Ihenacho went out for the season with a wrist injury. And it seems that Johnson simply has not responded well to his situation. We still have a long way to go in the season so perhaps Johnson will be heard from.

Chris Thompson is definitely in the plans to get touches on a regular basis. He’s not going to get 20 carries a game, or even 15. But they would like to get him three to five carries per game and target him four or five times in the passing game. Thompson could perhaps earn a few more touches if he does well but as long as Matt Jones and Alfred Morris are playing well it will be hard to get many more touches for Thompson.

There are no free agents out there in October who would be of legitimate help. They are as rare as unicorns. A trade? Maybe but the Falcons aren’t dealing Julio and no team with a similar weapon is going to cut an in-season deal, either. The Redskins are going to have to get along in the red zone with what they have. Although he is not huge, I think Pierre Garçon can help there as he showed against the Eagles. I also think they might get the ball to Matt Jones on a few passes out of the backfield.

I think that for starters, Morris’ numbers need to stop their annual decline we’ve seen since his big debut in 2012. He would need to become a better receiver out of the backfield and break some long runs. Right now, Morris is a very good runner but not an “elite” running back if you want to use the true since of the word. There are only a few of them, by definition—Peterson, Forte, Charles, Lynch. Morris is who he is, very good and a major asset to this team. But he is not an elite running back.

Grant is not going to be fast in and out of breaks because he’s not very fast. He is an outstanding route runner and that is how he will survive in the league. He will get chances for the next week or so while DeSean Jackson is out. When Jackson is back, however, it looks like Jamison Crowder will continue to be the slot receiver so Grant’s snaps, and so his chances, will be limited.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Walkthrough and travel to Atlanta; no availability

Days until: Redskins @ Falcons 1; Redskins @ Jets 8; Bucs @ Redskins 15

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Redskins RB Thompson still nervous for impending cut down day

Redskins RB Thompson still nervous for impending cut down day

You would think that after spending two years as the team’s third-down back, playing more snaps than any other running back last season, and getting a second-round restricted free agent tender that will pay him $2.7 million this year, Chris Thompson might feel comfortable as the Redskins start up the final phase of their preseason program.

But Thompson says that he is as nervous about making the team as he was when he was a fifth-round in 2013.

“Even after the last preseason game when you guys talk to me I’m going to still be nervous when that time comes around because I never forget that feeling,” he told reporters on Monday prior to the Redskins charity golf tournament at Army-Navy Country Club.

“For me, I’ve just got to come out here and work every day to try to secure my job.”

ROSTER BATTLES: Left guard | Tight end Nickel cornerback  | Inside linebacker | Running back

The approach has worked for him in the past. He struggled with injuries his first two years in the league, playing a total of just six games. In 2015 he found his niche as the third-down back and he hasn’t given it up.

In fact, he may get more opportunities on first and second downs.

“I have a feeling that I might get a little more this year,” he said. “He [coach Jay Gruden] knows that I’m healthy and I can stay healthy. I think that was one of his biggest concerns, that I can handle the load. I think I’ll get a lot more opportunities.”

Rob Kelley is expected to be the starter and fourth-round pick Samaje Perine should get a significant number of carries. If Gruden plans on Thompson getting more work on the ground, that likely means that the Redskins anticipate running the ball more ofent than they did in 2016, when they were 27th in the NFL with 379 rushing attempts.

Health is key for Thompson. He not only played in all 16 games for the first time in his career last year, he came out of the season in good health. Not having the need to rehab is allowing Thompson to work on refining his game.

“[Being healthy] helps me to get away and focus on the little things that I need to work on,” he said. “Having a full offseason, being able to get away, I’ve been able to focus on those things. Just like my quickness, my route running. I know my route running is big for me to make it in this league so I work on that. . . that was my main goal.”

Thompson’s work ethic and his mindset where he takes nothing for granted have served him well. He will be an unrestricted free agent in 2018 and if he continues to produce he will be setting himself up for a nice payday. 

RELATED: OFFSEASON NFL POWER RANKINGS

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RB Matt Jones reportedly not part of Redskins' 2017 plans

RB Matt Jones reportedly not part of Redskins' 2017 plans

Matt Jones entered the 2016 season as the Redskins undisputed starter at running back.

That lasted seven games.

By Week 8, Jones landed on the inactive list, and he never took another snap all year.

With OTAs beginning for the 2017 season, it looks like Jones might not play with the team. 

NFL POWER RANKINGS: WHO GOT BETTER AFTER THE DRAFT?

In April at the NFL Draft, reports surfaced that Washington was trying to trade Jones.

Weeks before that, at the NFL Owner's Meetings in Arizona, Redskins head coach Jay Gruden had to be reminded that Jones was still on the roster as the coach talked about the running back situation for this fall.

Robert Kelley surpassed Jones as the top running back on the team last season with Chris Thompson secure in his third down back role. 

Mack Brown even moved past Jones on the depth chart. When the Redskins drafted Samaje Perine in the fourth round, that signaled even bigger trouble for Jones' roster situation.

The Redskins will likely only keep four running backs this fall, and with Kelley, Perine, Thompson and Brown, it sure seems like Jones is the odd man out.

It's remarkable considering Jones has size, speed and an NFL resume that has three 100-yard games on it in just 20 games. The Redskins spent a third-round pick on Jones in 2015, and he largely ousted fan favorite Alfred Morris from the RB1 role as a rookie. 

Life comes at you quick in the NFL.

Jones is a clear example of that. 

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ROSTER BATTLES: Left guard | Tight end Nickel cornerback  | Inside linebacker | Running back