Washington Redskins rookie running back Chris Thompson returned to his home state Thursday night to face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the teams’ preseason finale, where he had a 69-yard punt return for a touchdown, making a strong case for a spot on the 53-man roster.
“After I saw Keiland Williams’ block. I told him, as soon as I got on the sideline, that I thanked him for making that block, because that really got it started. After he made that block, I was like, ‘I think I’ve got a chance to make it in the end zone.'”
Prior to tonight’s game, the Florida State product who was selected 154th overall in this year’s draft was in danger of not making the final cut.
At 5-foot-7 and 192 pounds, he lacks the ideal size of an NFL running back, and he’s already suffered some serious injuries, including a broken vertebrae in 2011. He came into training camp still feeling the effects of a torn ACL he suffered last October.
But one outstanding play on special teams can change an organization’s view on a player. In fact, special teams play is how the majority of players who are either ‘on the bubble’ or otherwise wouldn’t make the final roster end up earning jobs.
Thompson knows it, which is why he’s studied all aspects of the return game, from reading the punter, to securing the ball, to being patient as the blocks develop.
For someone who has encountered so many injuries so early on in his career, the ‘patience’ thing is nothing new.
“Sometimes you’ve just got to catch it and hit it. And sometimes you have to take a little time to set up the blocks and everything. On that punt return, it all worked out. All the guys did a great job blocking for me.”