RICHMOND—Though two days of training camp, Chris Thompson has managed to stand out in a crowded Redskins’ backfield.
He’s looked quick. He’s looked elusive. He’s looked decisive. In other words, the 2013 fifth round draft pick has looked precisely like the No. 3 running back that Jay Gruden is seeking for his offense.
“This is the best [I’ve felt],” Thompson said. “It helps even more that I’m comfortable with the playbook. I know what I’m doing. Everything is slowing down for me, so now I can gauge my speed as far as hitting the holes and everything."
“And with my body feeling good, too,” Thompson added, “that helps make everything a lot easier.”
Indeed, health issues have dogged Thompson in recent seasons. At Florida State, it was a broken back and a blown out ACL. As a rookie, he suffered a torn labrum in his shoulder during the preseason, attempted to play through the pain and then wound up having season-ending surgery after appearing in only four games.
These days, he’s attempting to hit the reset button, impress Gruden and, more important, prove that he can stay healthy.
“I have to,” he said. “ That’s been the biggest thing for me since my junior year in college. I just have to prove to the coaches that I can stay healthy. And that means spending more time in the training room, which is something I wasn’t doing last year and in college. Just really learning to take care of my body.”
“As far as my eating habits,” he continued, cracking a smile, “I’m a big sweet tea and french fries type of guy. For some reason I can’t stay away from it. It’s good we don’t have that stuff in Richmond. It’s keeping me in good eating habits.”
Whether all that will help keep him on the team, well, that remains to be seen. Entering training camp, Alfred Morris and Roy Helu Jr. were the Redskins’ top two running backs. After that, it's anyone’s best guess.
Thompson figures he’s battling rookie Lache Seastrunk, a similar player in terms of shiftiness and breakaway speed, Evan Royster and Silas Redd for one, maybe two spots.
“It’s all of us,” Thompson said. “Me, Lache, Silas, Evan, we’re all competing every single day. We’d like to make that decision hard for Coach.”
Thompson agrees that he’s off to a strong start. But he’s also been around enough to understand that spots on the 53-man roster won’t be handed out until the end of August.
“I have to keep being consistent,” Thompson said. “That’s one of the biggest things with [running backs coach Randy] Jordan—being consistent. He knows I can run. It’s not making those mental mistakes, taking care of the ball, all of those things.”
Scoring from 30 yards out and/or turning a screen pass into a long gain during the preseason wouldn’t hurt, either.
“I just have to come out and show the coaches my skills,” Thompson said. “Let them know I can win one-on-one matchups with linebackers or whoever it is guarding me. Show them I can do stuff in the screen game. And showcase my speed, which is what they drafted me here to show.”