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Finding His Role On Third Downs, Chris Thompson Ready For Fifth Season

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Coming off a fully healthy 2016 campaign, the Washington Redskins are excited to see Chris Thompson continue to add value in third down and passing situations.

During the 2016 season, Washington Redskins running back Chris Thompson posted career numbers across the board as he proved more than capable of serving as the third-down back.

It was an important breakout year for Thompson, as he struggled to stay healthy for his first three seasons in Washington. In 16 games last year, the 2013 fifth-round pick recorded 68 carries for 356 yards and three touchdowns along with 49 receptions for 349 yards and two more touchdowns.

"I'm just glad I'm here at least for another year and hopefully years to come," said Thompson, who re-sign with the Redskins in the offseason as a restricted free agent. "My focus is just doing whatever I can do to help us win, get to the playoffs this year and not fall short. With every single opportunity that I get, I'm going to make the best of it this year and enjoy it."

Thompson is expected to once again be the team's third-down back and one of the most effective players in the NFL at that.

"I think Chris Thompson's role is big," said Redskins head coach Jay Gruden. "When you're talking about third downs, that's the most important down in football. Third down, red zone, situational football, there's no one better as a third down back than Chris in my opinion. He's got a huge role on this football team. Whether he does some more stuff on first and second down will be determined. I'm sure he will. But he's so valuable on third down I got to keep him in that role for now."

Thompson himself believes he's in a better spot entering the 2017 season, as he was fully healthy entering the offseason. In years past he's had to rehab from injuries, putting him a little bit behind during offseason training.

Take a look back at the top images of the Washington Redskins' running backs from the 2016 season.

"It helps me to get away and just focus on the little things I have to work on," Thompson said. "Having a full offseason [and] being able to get away so I've been able to focus on those things. I know my route running has been big for me to make it in this league. I worked a lot on that and that was pretty much my biggest focus so now that I didn't have to worry about healing any injuries or injuries was my main goal this whole offseason."

While Thompson will come in on third downs and key passing situations, the Redskins will have competition at the top of the depth chart between second-year veteran Robert Kelley and 2017 fourth-round pick Samaje Perine.

Kelley, of course, climbed his way up the depth chart last year, going from undrafted out of Tulane to the team's starting running back for the second half of the season.

Perine, meanwhile, is a bruising runner who is Oklahoma's all-time leading rusher.

"It's going to be fun," Thompson said of their competition. "It's the NFL, so there is competition every single year. Nothing is ever set in stone unless you're AP [Adrian Peterson] or something like that. It's going to be a fun one. I've seen some really good things from Perine …I think it's going to be good and it's going to help us all as a group get better."

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