When running back Chris Thompson saw the Redskins had drafted LSU running back Derrius Guice in the second round of the NFL Draft, he immediately tweeted a welcome message to him. He, like the rest of the team’s fans, was excited for such an exuberant and dynamic runner to join the team.
“I’m excited about it. It might be a little test,” Thompson said, referring to his role as leader of the running backs room.” I hear he’s hyped up all the time.
“We’ve got a real calm group so that will be something different,” he added. “But we’ll work on it though, I mean, I’ll accept it. I mean if you’re not a bad guy and you’re just hyped up all the time that’s perfectly fine. When you have a guy that comes in and thinks he’s better than everyone that’s when there’s an issue, so I’m excited about it and he’s a baller.”
In three seasons with the Tigers, Guice carried the ball 471 times for 3,074 yards and 29 touchdowns along with 32 receptions for 250 yards and three receiving touchdowns. He mentioned multiple times at his introductory press conference and throughout Draft Fest that he will run even angrier now because so many teams passed on his abilities.
It will certainly bring a new dynamic into the running backs room, which features Rob Kelley and Samaje Perine, both of whom are quieter people by nature. Thompson knows it will be a transition catching up to speed with Guice in that respect, but is looking forward to his injection of energy.
“Rob likes to chill, he’s got a kid now,” Thompson said. “Perine, absolutely none of that [going out]. Me too, that’s not my thing at all. He knows me and I know him. [Guice] is never going to tell me to go out with him. I know he’s going to go out and do his thing and we’ll do things together as a group. Everybody likes different things. For him, I hear Guice likes video games so that’s my thing, that’s something I already know we have in common. It’s fun. You get another personality, somebody that’s super hyped up, which will definitely be fun in the room and practice.”
The Redskins have drafted at least one running back every year since 2009, which means Thompson is used to seeing new prospects make their claim for his job, and most recently, for others’. As he’s become more of a focal point for the team as the third-down running back, and especially after his new contract and breakout season in 2017, Thompson has adopted a healthy perspective on competition.
When I asked him about how Kelley and Perine and the rest of the running backs on the roster might be feeling about Guice’s arrival, he provided a thorough and honest answer that should carry the right tone for the rest of the offseason.
“It’s being human. I’ve had to deal with that,” Thompson said. “For me I understand that there’s going to be guys that they bring in every single year. I’ve had to tell myself that it doesn’t matter what they decide to do, I still gotta come in here and work every single day and you know they’re going to make decisions that they feel they need to make our team better. For me, as a player, it bothers you sometimes because you think ‘Ok, my job might be taken,’ but at the same time if you’re worried about that then you’re not doing what you need to on the field, so it’s like why? There is no reason to be upset. But I get it, because my first couple of years in the league I was there, I had that feeling. I don’t know what they’re [Kelley and Perine] feeling, they may be OK, but I know your first reaction is going to make you feel some type of way, but for those guys I tell, I’ve been telling them for the longest, every year they’re going to bring guys in no matter how good or bad you do. The only thing you can worry about is what you can do on the field, what you can do every day, what you showed up in the film room.
“At the end of the day, when you know you’ve given your all, nothing else really matters. If you can walk away every day and say I did everything that I could do, that’s all that really matters in the end.”