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."
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.
MORE REDSKINS: RYAN KERRIGAN ISN'T GOING TO DOUBT LEBRON JAMES
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."
MORE REDSKINS: DOCTSON SITS OUT PART OF WEDNESDAY'S OTAS, BUT DON'T PANIC