RICHMOND—It was a running play to the far side of where the media watches practice. Chris Thompson got the ball and then disappeared into a mass of bodies pursuing him as he ran to the right. All of a sudden he popped out of the crowd as he turned on the jets and burst past the defense for a nice gain. The play drew a few ooh’s and aah’s from the crowd. Speed always impresses.
And with the Redskins still in search of a backup to Matt Jones it makes you wonder if the Redskins are going to look to Thompson to handle those duties. Last year he had only 23 rushing attempts but three of them went for 26 yards or longer. Thompson could add some pop to the offense after the 6-2, 232-lb. Jones wears down the defense for a while.
He got only 23 carries last year in part because of the presence of Alfred Morris, who led the team in rushing attempts with 202. Now Morris is gone and the team has not signed or drafted anyone to take his place.
Sometimes Thompson seems to be very willing to take on a bigger role.
“We don't have Alfred here so that could mean more opportunities in the run game for me and be more involved in the game plan this year,” said Thompson. “Whatever the coaches have for me I just want to be prepared, to be ready.”
But later in the same interview session with reporters, Thompson indicated that although his role could get bigger he seems to be content as the third-down back.
“You know every guy always dreams of being the starter but for me, since I've been here, I've understood what my role is,” he said. “Even though I'm labeled as a third-down back my role still can continue to expand. I could possibly be that No. 2 to Matt if he gets tired I can be the one that's spelling him here and there.”
That doesn't sound like he's going to be going into Jay Gruden's office and saying, "Give me the damn ball" anytime soon.
There is legitimate concern that Thompson won’t hold up if his load is increased to around eight to 10 carries per game. Injuries plagued his career at Florida State and he missed most of his rookie season after a shoulder injury. A back bruise and another shoulder injury cost him three games last year. Thompson said he has a high tolerance for pain and there’s not reason to doubt that but the laws of physics say that a 5-8, 195-lb. running back isn’t going to be able to take much of a consistent pounding.
But his speed will always draw the attention of the coaches so he needs to be prepared to play a bigger role. He won’t carry 150 times this year but he could well get 75 to 100, especially if he can burst around the corner against other teams like he did in practice on Tuesday.