- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 1, 2018

RICHMOND — Seven months after undergoing surgery to repair a broken right leg, Chris Thompson lined up in the backfield Tuesday and when the play snapped, he looked like the running back the Redskins were used to seeing.

Thompson, participating in 11-on-11 drills for the first time since his injury, appeared to carry the same explosive speed that made him Washington’s most reliable playmaker last season.

“He looks great,” coach Jay Gruden said.

But while Thompson has made considerable progress, the running back said afterward he still isn’t 100 percent. Thompson added doctors told him he won’t be fully healed until November — a year after his operation.

Until then, Thompson has noticed a difference in his play: He feels himself thinking.

“I’m still nervous about just making cuts,” Thompson said. “I’m nervous about what happens if this guy falls and hits my ankle? I know it’s healed. I know the plate is there so I don’t have to worry about it breaking. But it’s a big mental game, and this is like the toughest mentally that I’ve had to deal with so far.”

Thompson has gone through the rehab process before. He broke his back and tore his ACL in college — and then tore his labrum in 2016 with the Redskins. Thompson knows how long it takes for injuries to heal.

But, he said, what makes this injury so difficult is that it has messed with his psyche. Thompson said he notices himself being hesitant when he plants with his right foot. He especially can tell the difference when running routes.

That’s why, even with his progress, the Redskins are still being cautious with Thompson’s practice schedule. He received 12 reps on Tuesday and his Wednesday reps didn’t appear to be increased.

Gruden, though, said he is “100 percent confident” Thompson will be ready for Week 1 against the Arizona Cardinals, but the Redskins won’t rush his rehab.

“He’s still going to go through a lot for work as far as getting himself ready to play, so I anticipate he’ll be ready,” Gruden said. “Now, we can also control the amount we give him on his plate, you know, early in the season also. That’s a good thing.”

Thompson meets with team doctors about three times per week. He said he follows a strict routine, because if he feels good and isn’t told otherwise, he’ll overwork.

The Redskins, meanwhile, need him to be healthy.

Thompson’s season was cut short when he broke his fibula in mid-November against the New Orleans Saints. But before then, Thompson was having his best season as a pro — recording 804 yards from the line of scrimmage for six touchdowns in 10 games. Washington went 3-3 without him, but the offense struggled.

Thompson said he feels comfortable when running the ball, while he still needs to work on cutting with his right leg when running routes. He said the goal is to get to the point where he feels at least 90 percent “or whatever it is” before playing.

And whenever he returns, Thompson isn’t looking forward to taking his first hit.

“I know I’ve got to do it,” Thompson said. “I know I’m going to be super nervous about it, but once I get that first hit, whether it’s in preseason or the first game … once I get hit one time, I know I’m going to be good after that.”

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