Chris Thompson had to not only prove he could play football in the NFL, but he had to prove that he could stay healthy. That's not always easy when one stands 5-foot-8 and weighs 193 pounds and has already had a variety of injuries. Despite it all, Thompson is becoming a key contributor to Washington on third down as a runner and receiver and in pass protection.
What did playing at Florida State do to help your NFL career?
"Playing at Florida State, regardless of the record, we knew at least two games we were playing were in front of packed crowds with Florida and Miami. As the years went on — and I can't really count my junior year, because I barely played — but my sophomore and senior year, we were pretty good.
We would go to N.C. State and we played them at night, twice. They ended up beating us both times. They had packed crowds and just being able to keep your poise with all the noise and not being able to hear things here and there. For me, I had to learn my protections to a point that I didn't need to hear the offensive line calls and all that kind of good stuff. Sometimes you just can't hear them. You also have to pay attention to the play clock. It really prepared me because I played in big games pretty much all my life."
You had the significant injuries at Florida State and then a shoulder injury in your rookie year with the Redskins. Did you think of quitting?
"My junior year, after my back injury, I really didn't think I wanted to play ball anymore. I really went into a cave and stayed away from everybody. I would still go out on the field with my teammates during the practices and everything, but when I got away from them, I really didn't know if I wanted to do it anymore.
It took really a month after my whole rehab process got over with until I felt like I really wanted to play ball. I still went through practice and everything, but I still wasn't sure about it.
Around June or July, I really hit that point and thought I could make a comeback. It just so happens that I am here now but the last two injuries I've had with my ACL and my shoulder, once I got here, to me they weren't as bad as breaking my back. I was like if I can come back from that, I know I can come back from these two."
Going through getting cut last year as the Redskins reduced their roster to 53, was that ultimately a good thing?
"I think so. In my opinion, most times, the most impact and stuff you get is during practices and especially being on practice squad, I was getting knocked around every single day. To be able to be on practice squad and get healthy but also really get physically tough out there because those guys know, 'OK, Chris, we don't have to worry about him playing Sunday,' so they're going to knock me around a little bit. So, that really helped me out a lot. No guy wants to be on practice squad, but now when I think back on it, that's the biggest reason I am here now. I wasn't too happy. No guy would be.
The coaches told me, 'We've got a plan for you,' and I believed in them. It took me a little while to believe in them, to be honest, but I believed in it and stuck with I, and so far, it has worked out for me. I'm thankful they decided to keep me around, now that I think about it. I could have been home and I'm sitting here complaining about being on practice squad and I could be home, like a lot of people I know."
What's a better football rush? A kickoff return, a punt return or catching a wheel route in space?
"I think a kick return might be the best. Other than ridiculous guys like Devin Hester, you don't really see it a whole lot. That's one of the most exciting things, and even seeing Rashad [Ross] have that touchdown, although it was at the end of the game at that point, just for him to have that touchdown, it's a great feeling.
I told him, it's so crazy, I had a dream that he ran back a kick return and he ran it back to the right and it happened to be a right return. That's crazy. I had the dream that he did it and I was standing in the back of the end zone. I had that dream the second game, that week, and he ended up having that touchdown that following week."
The Redskins have a three-headed monster at running back. How does that work? Do you need to know your role?
"I think it's different depending on the type of guys that you have on your team or in your position. With Matt and Alfred, they don't mind at all. Whoever has the hot hand, we're cheering on the next guy. That's pretty much how it is.
Alf has been here with me and he's seen everything I've been through. When I'm on the field, he's doing nothing but cheering for me.
To see Matt come in and do what he's doing as a rookie, Alf is so happy. I think part of it might remind him when he was a rookie. I think for us, that's what the coaches like about us three. He knows whoever has the hot hand, he can get the job done."
Read more Washington Times Redskins coverage here: http://www.washingtontimes.com/specials/washington-redskins-season/