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Jay Gruden always believed in Chris Thompson, and Thompson hasn't forgotten

Jay Gruden always believed in Chris Thompson, and Thompson hasn't forgotten

For a player who does much of his damage on the field with his speed, Chris Thompson's career started out slowly.

After the Redskins selected Thompson in the fifth round of the 2013 NFL Draft, the Florida State running back saw his first NFL season end on injured reserve and spent most of his second on the practice squad. But it was during that second season, the first of Jay Gruden's tenure in Washington, that the head coach advised Thompson to stay patient and get through the frustration he was feeling.

"Coach Gruden told me three years ago when he came in that he had a plan for me," the now fifth-year veteran said Wednesday after an OTA session in Ashburn. "He had that talk with me as soon as he got here and he just told me he was gonna stick with me and I was his guy and he trusted in me and my ability."

RELATED: Jay Gruden sees something in Chris Thompson

Whenever a new coach comes in, it's often expected that they'll trim the roster of free agents they didn't sign and draft picks they didn't ask for in order to "get their guys." But Thompson's comments show that Gruden had no interest in dropping him after taking over, even though Thompson was drafted before Gruden and had yet to show that he was big enough or good enough to succeed as a pro.

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When asked why he not only didn't look to get rid of Thompson, but also went as far as to promise that he would find a role for him on the Redskins eventually, Gruden started with the Florida native's character.

"First of all, he's a great human," the coach said Wednesday. "He's a joy to be around, he's worked extremely hard, he cares about the details."

The above quote is only a sliver of what Gruden had to say about his third-down back, as the full answer he gave about Thompson was the longest from his time behind the podium. It seems that he not only likes the way No. 25 has carried himself in the Burgundy and Gold, but also covets the way he fills a spot that the offensive-minded coach cares a lot about.

"To be in the position he is in, a third-down back, it’s a very important position," Gruden said. "These guys are very valuable to your team because it keeps drives alive and big plays are because of them. I mean, you can double team Jordan Reed, you can double team the receivers, but that back gets a lot of one-on-one matchups... I saw the value early on in him."

Hearing coaches and players compliment one another is an everyday occurrence around the league, especially in May, when there's only so many things that can be asked and every franchise is 0-0. But it feels like there's more than just your usual level of respect between Gruden and Thompson. Much more, in fact.

The former waited for the latter to develop when there wasn't much reason to, and the latter is making the former look good for doing so. And while Thompson still isn't exactly sure why Gruden was patient with him, he's very thankful that he was.

"When he first came in, I was still just trying to learn the ins-and-outs of our offense and working on being a good route runner and everything, but he saw it in me," Thompson said. "Coach Gruden saw something and I'm just really appreciative of that."

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was-Cousins' value, the Redskins' top pick

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was-Cousins' value, the Redskins' top pick

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, January 20, 53 days before NFL free agency starts.

Timeline  

Days until:

—NFL franchise tag deadline (3/6) 45
—NFL Draft (4/26) 96
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 232

The Redskins week that was

Jags big win could spell bad news for Kirk Cousins—If the Jaguars’ accomplishment of getting to the AFC championship game does indeed make Blake Bortles’ job safe, the laws of economics say that the amount of money that Cousins can command in a free agent contract should go down. It’s the demand part of supply and demand and if demand goes down, prices should, too. But the NFL quarterback market doesn’t follow the laws. If the Lions see fit to pay Matthew Stafford, a quarterback under whom they have had very limited success, a contract with an average annual value of $27 million without any team bidding against them, that sets the price.

Setting the odds on what happens with Kirk Cousins—Despite his happy talk at the 106.7 The Fan event earlier this month, the possibility that Cousins will play in a Redskins uniform in 2018 does not warrant a large bet of imaginary casino chips. If you missed the post, take a look and let me know what you think of my assessment.

Don't freak out about latest Zach Brown tweet—It’s that time of year. A player sends out a tweet with no context and fans assign the worst possible meaning to it. In Brown’s case, a tweet about not getting respect was interpreted as a sign that contract negotiations with the Redskins were not going well. But JP Finlay found out that the tweet was about Brown being upset that another alternate getting selected to the Pro Bowl and not him. It still is unclear if Brown will return to the Redskins but at least there are no indications of rocky negotiations at this point.

Bang for the free agent bucks for the Redskins? Brown was a solid free agent acquisition for the Redskins last year. Terrelle Pryor, not so much. Take a look at the post for the other hits and misses in free agency.

Tweet of the week

Even though the draft is over three months away there are plenty of opinions out there as this tweet drew a ton of reaction. On the offensive side of the ball, the suggestions ran towards quarterbacks Lamar Jackson and Baker Mayfield although some want a running back. It will be interesting to see how those two non-conventional quarterbacks look after they spend the next few months under the microscope of the NFL draft process. The defensive name that kept coming up was Washington defensive lineman Vita Vea, a large specimen who could play the nose in base defense and move to three-technique in nickel.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

In case you missed it

 

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Scot McCloughan simply said what plenty of others think about Kirk Cousins

Scot McCloughan simply said what plenty of others think about Kirk Cousins

Redskins fans were frenzied when Scot McCloughan said that Kirk Cousins is a good quarterback, but not a special one. The #KirkHive shuddered and the Kirk Haters celebrated.

McCloughan, the former Redskins GM who's wildly popular with fans, explained what few people will say publicly: Cousins is a skilled player but probably not deserving of the money he might make in free agency. 

Let's start with the obvious: Cousins is good.

He's a durable passer in a league that doesn't have enough of them. He's started the last 49 games for the Redskins and thrown for more than 4,000 yards each of the past three seasons. 

Now more obvious: He isn't great.

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Bleacher Report's Chris Simms, speaking on the #RedskinsTalk podcast, said Cousins ranks about 12th among NFL passers. It's top half of the league, but it's not Top 5 or even Top 10. 

Cousins has had tremendous games with the Redskins, like a near perfect performance against Oakland in 2017 or a dominant performance against Green Bay in 2016. 

Cousins has also been awful, as recently as Week 17 in New York a few weeks ago, or an equally stinky Week 17 game against the Giants two seasons ago. 

While some might view McCloughan's statement as controversial — "He’s a good player. Is he special? I don’t see special," he told Denver radio station 104.3 the Fan — it's not. 

Plenty of people agree with McCloughan, including some in Redskins Park. Last year, a source told NBC Sports Washington that the team believed they could get nearly as much production from Colt McCoy as Cousins provided. 

Even this year, Washington head coach Jay Gruden offered lukewarm praise of his quarterback.

When the season ended, asked to evaluate Cousins' play, the coach said, "When you’re 7-9, it’s hard to say, ‘Wow, this guy really was outstanding.’ There’s a few guys obviously that jump out, Pro Bowlers like Ryan Kerrigan had a solid year. Obviously Trent [Williams] when he played was a Pro Bowl-type and Brandon [Scherff] when he was healthy was a Pro Bowl-type guy. Kirk had his flashes where he was really good. From a consistent standpoint, over the course of 16 games, you know, we’re 7-9."

That quote made headlines when Gruden said it, much like McCloughan's comments now are circulating faster than Beltway traffic. 

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Truth is, it's not new. And it's not news.

There are coaches that think Cousins is only scratching the surface of his capabilities. Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay come to mind, but both of those coaches have other QBs likely for the long-term future. 

Cousins might end up being paid like a Top 3 quarterback in the NFL, and that might be the right move given the demand at the position. Will that make him a special passer?

Not if special is defined as Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees. Even Cousins wouldn't argue with that.