When Chris Thompson injured his ribs against the Saints in Week 5, it hurt. It happened on a two-point conversion attempt when Thompson ran a quick slant and got popped by a linebacker.
“Couldn’t sleep, I’m still having a little trouble right now sleeping. [It’s] hard to laugh, it hurts to cough, sneeze, everything like that is all painful,” Thompson said.
When he fractured a rib on his other side during his Week 8 return, it completely limited his mobility. The second injury, because of how far forward on his rib-cage it occurred, has kept him out for the last four games, in which the Redskins have gone 1-3.
“And you know when I broke [my other rib]...that affects like your mobility big time too so that was really why I needed to sit out and miss some games, opposed to the left side that I did,” Thompson said. “Dealing with the right side I really had to give it time given where it happened, the area that it happened.”
Thompson’s return should give the Redskins a much-needed shot in the arm on offense. Injuries to skill positions have began to pile up, and Washington needs a play maker like Thompson who can create extra yardage on his own. That skill has become more important with the injury to Alex Smith, as head coach Jay Gruden said the Redskins are relying on shorter, quicker throws with Colt McCoy at the helm.
“We've got to get our guys head's around little quicker, he's going to give you more opportunity type balls for the receivers that come down whether it's tight ends or backs,” Gruden said. “But I think getting to know the guys and the guys getting to know him and when the ball is coming, will be a huge help."
Thompson returned to practice Monday for the first time since his Week 8 injury, which is good timing for McCoy who is getting his first full week of practice as a starter this season. The Redskins will hope to get the two on the same page in time for their Monday Night Football matchup with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Thompson’s forte is his ability to be used as a receiver, catching passes out of the backfield or lined-up out wide. The Eagles have allowed a receiving touchdown to a running back in their last three games, so Thompson should be in a prime position to showcase his strength as a pass-catcher.
Check out these photos of the Redskins' preparing for their Week 13 game against the Philadelphia Eagles Monday, Nov. 26, 2018, at the Inova Sports Performance Center at Redskins Park.
McCoy has completed 20-of-25 passes within 10 yards from the line of scrimmage, which is where Thompson has gotten all of his targets. When healthy last year, Thompson averaged over 13 yards per reception, in large part because of his dynamic run-after-catch ability.
Gruden told reporters how important Thompson is to the team in no uncertain terms
"He's got natural quickness really and he's a tough kid. We try to get him in positions where we can get him out in space and make some plays and he very seldom drops the ball,” Gruden said. “I can't remember the last time he had a drop. He's got great hands, runs great routes, creates separation with his quickness and then after the catch. He's a special guy."
The Redskins will need some big plays from their special players in order to secure their trip to the playoffs, and Thompson is just the player Gruden is looking for.
“I really believe that I can go back and make an impact with the group of running backs that we’ve already got here,” Thompson said. “You know, we’re dealing with a new starting quarterback right now at this time so I think would feel comfortable having a little more veteran leadership adding to him out there.”