NEW ORLEANS — Redskins running back Chris Thompson sat in a chair outside the locker room with a boot around his right leg. As a cart approached to carry him out of the stadium, Thompson slowly used his crutches to climb on, then looked downward as he was driven away.
Thompson’s injury likely needs surgery, Redskins coach Jay Gruden said.
In a season of costly injuries for the Redskins, Thompson’s might be the hardest to overcome. Not only did the running back lead Washington in rushing and receiving, he was pivotal for Gruden’s play calling.
“He’s one of the most important players on our offense, especially when you get the ball back and need him for pass protection routes coming out of the backfield there at the end,” Gruden said. “We just, obviously, have to make do with guys that we have. And we will.”
With Thompson out, the Redskins have just two healthy running backs on the roster. They already lost Rob Kelley a week earlier during the Vikings game, placing him on injured reserve on Tuesday.
The Redskins signed Byron Marshall last week off Philadelphia’s practice squad, in part, because of his ability to be a factor in the passing and running game. But there are challenges incorporating him in place of Thompson — Marshall is still learning the offense and he’s no match for Thompson in pass protection. Marshall had one carry for two yards against the Saints.
Rookie Samaje Perine will likely take on a bigger role, especially considering the success he had against the Saints. Perine rushed for 117 yards on 23 carries with touchdown. He also caught a pass for nine yards.
Like other Redskins, Perine was stunned by the loss of Thompson.
“He was doing so great and possibly having a Pro Bowl type season,” Perine said. “And just to have him go down like that, it’s never good.”
Thompson helped stake the Redskins to a lead over the red-hot Saints, scoring on a 16-yard touchdown on a wheel route to give the Redskins a 10-3 lead in the first quarter. Later, he also had a 16-yard run on a draw play on first-and-20.
This season, Thompson had been second in targets only to Jamison Crowder.
Kirk Cousins hasn’t had many reliable options that he fully trusts. Jordan Reed has missed four games and hasn’t been able to stay healthy. Terrelle Pryor never emerged as a top threat. While Cousins’ chemistry with Josh Doctson has progressed, it’s still a work in progress.
But Thompson? Cousins has known him for years, back to when they took second and third string snaps in practice.
“It’s tough,” Cousins said. “Chris was one of our best players, if not our best player, this year.”
Thompson signed a two-year contract extension in September, just before the season started. So there’s a strong chance he will be back with the Redskins next year. In the meantime, at 4-6, the Redskins’ season just became more difficult.
— Matthew Paras
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