Chris Thompson needs strong finale

ASHBURN, Va. -- He understands what the Washington Redskins want to see. Chris Thompson wants to see it himself. And he knows he must show it Thursday -- or else.

Thompson entered training camp with an excellent chance of winning a roster spot, serving as a speed back in Jay Gruden’s offense. He could catch the ball and he was shifty in the open field and he could run out of their spread -- a good change-up to starter Alfred Morris.

But injuries have shadowed his career, dating to college and Thompson must prove his durability. That's why he must have a good game Thursday at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the final preseason game.

“One of the top traits a running back has to have -- my dad told me a long time ago -- is durability,” Redskins coach Jay Gruden, son of a scout, said. “He’s got to prove he can stay healthy. He might have to play through some pain for us to count on him on a Sunday afternoon. This is a big game for Chris.”

Thompson sprained his ankle in the first preseason game and was not at full speed until Monday. Before the injury he was working behind Morris and Roy Helu. Now, he must show that he’s more worthy than Evan Royster, Silas Redd and Lache Seastrunk.

But Thompson also knows his injury history: a back injury in 2011; torn ACL in 2012; torn labrum in his shoulder in 2013.

“I just have to show them I can make it through some games and I will show them,” he said. “I’ve been hurt a lot. I can deal with pain. I’ll make sure I finish this game out.”

Thompson also said he must show he can handle third-down situations, like picking up blitzes and running routes out of the backfield.

“I haven’t showed them enough,” Thompson said. “I have to go out and make some plays.”

If Thompson can’t finish Thursday’s game, then it’s difficult to imagine him winning a roster spot. However, one game staying healthy does not mean he’ll last all 16 games, either. But it’s not as if Thompson would get more than a handful of carries in a game anyway. He does have the shiftiness and quickness the coaches want.

Regardless, running back will be a tough decision when it comes to the final 53-man roster.

“I’m not worried at all,” Thompson said. “I’ve just got to get my mind right. I felt good before, but I wasn’t able to show it when game time came around. Practice is good, but it’s not good enough.”