For Redskins' running back Chris Thompson, the approach to every game stays the same. No matter the opponent or circumstances, he carries himself with equal measure week to week. He'll continue to do that again this Monday, even though the game does have some emotional weight attached.
Less than 11 months ago, Thompson and the Redskins were in New Orleans for a Week 11 matchup with the Saints when the sixth-year veteran suffered a fractured fibula in the third quarter of the contest. The injury ended his 2017 campaign.
"It just sucked, but things happen. It was just a freak injury," Thompson said. "I obviously had to move on from it. "
He has moved on, now putting all of his focus on the 2018 season. Yet, it is hard to not let a few thoughts linger about how that moment impacted not only Thompson and the team.
Entering that contest with the Saints, Thompson was on pace for his best season as a pro. Through nine weeks, he was less than 100 yards away from topping his career high in rushing yards and had already surpassed his career-high in receiving yards.
"It was the best season I had so far in my career," Thompson said. "That part sucked about it."
Losing a chance at a strong statistical season stung, but what hurt Thompson more was the effect it had on how the rest of that game, and year, played out for the Redskins. When Thompson exited with an injury, the Redskins still had a 24-13 lead against a strong Saints team.
The lead didn't last long. In potentially the most devastating loss of the season, New Orleans stormed back to win 34-31 in overtime. The loss pushed the Redskins to 4-6, and stripped away a chance at a season-altering win. It was clear that Thompson's versatility in the pass and run game was missed dearly, but there was nothing he could do but watch.
"But it was just not being out there with my guys and just to go down like that," Thompson said about what the worst part of the injury was. "And then it made it even worse how we ended up losing the game too. I'm sitting in the locker room watching it and should have been one that we won."
Following the loss, the Redskins finished with a 7-9 record, with Thompson's absence on offense being felt throughout the remaining six games. Yet now, that is all in the past.
All the factors leading into the game, including it being on Monday night under the lights, has Thompson admitting that there may be a little "extra juice" at times. Once he hits the field, however, he intends to continue doing what he always preaches: Treat it just like any other game.
"For me, it'll be the same approach," Thompson said. "If I was to say that I'm going all out like I owe this team, I'd be cheating my teammates by basically saying the first three games I wasn't really playing as hard as I could. The approach will still be the same."
It's been a long road to recovery for Thompson, but to him, this game carries significance mostly because it is a crucial game for his team.
With the Redskins preparing to enter a stretch of 13 straight games to finish out the regular season, Monday offers not only a redemption game for Thompson, but for the whole team. A chance to once again pick up a statement win on the road against a talented Saints team.
"I got the opportunity again to go against them," Thompson said. "So hopefully we can get some good results this time."