When Chris Thompson is on the field, he provides at least one play a game that’ll make you say “Wow.”
The 5-foot-7, 193-pound running back comes equipped with elite speed and shifty moves that can lose defenders in a heartbeat.
But, despite all of his positives, Thompson has struggled to swat away the injury bug. Dating back to his junior season at Florida State, he has suffered a season-ending injury each year. Robert Griffin III, several dynamic playmakers in the passing game and a workhorse running back in Alfred Morris, one facet that could further push defenses to the brink would be a homerun back.
Morris isn’t lacking in speed, but that’s not necessarily his game.
It is Thompson’s though.
“I think I’m able to bring that speed to the backfield,” he said. “Not that those guys don’t have it, but bringing the speed and being able to show the coaches that I can win my one-on-one matchups against backers at any possible time.
“Then catching the ball, I’ve got pretty good hands and I’m confident in my hands. Just the coaches being able to have trust in me at any time regardless of what plays it is.”
Head coach Jay Gruden agrees.
“He’s got the speed,” he said during training camp. “He’s got the hands. He’s got the quickness. He’s got everything you’re looking for. We’ve just got to make sure he stays healthy.”
Admitting frustration by the fact he wasn’t able to help out the team for the entire season last year, Thompson said running backs coach Randy Jordan — a former NFL player — has really helped ease his nerves and understands when and when not to push him physically.
“It’s wonderful because he understands,” he explained. “He understands how our bodies will feel after two days will pass. He understands if we’re hurting a little bit, he’s been through all that.
“He’ll give us a play or two off, he’s just really doing a great job with us overall. Even in the individual drills, doing a lot of stuff that helps us really get ready and prepared for practice.”
Jordan has also preached patience when stretch plays take longer to develop then he wants them to.
“He’s been working on me with that and been talking to me just being patient on my outside zone and zone plays,” Thompson said. “He knows I can do it pretty well, just letting me know inside zone I need to improve on that.
“He’s continuing to just help me with my footwork. Being able to catch, get out of my breaks and everything a lot quicker. He wants me to be able to run a lot of different routes and be able to show that I can do a little more than traditional backs.”
As for a possible special teams role, if the second-year running back is called into duty, he believes he can thrive, especially with special teams coordinator Ben Kotwica’s track record.
During Kotwica’s time as a special teams assistant with the New York Jets, their special teams units scored 10 touchdowns.
“It’s great working with Coach Ben,” Thompson said. “He’s very enthusiastic out here, in the meeting rooms, everything. He has a great scheme. We’re in there watching film and it just looks like a highlight reel.
“When he was in New York he had like five different returners and they all ran kicks back, punts back, all that kind of good stuff. We know his system works and all the guys trust and believe in him and it’s great being around him … He wants the best out of us and hopefully I can give that to him.”