WASHINGTON — Chris Thompson had already set a career high in receiving yards this season and was on pace to crush his career-high rushing total from 2016.
But in the blink of an eye, the Redskins’ top rushing and receiving playmaker was lost for the season, diagnosed with a fractured fibula as his leg twisted under the weight of a Saints defender, rolling up on him from behind.
“It’s huge,” Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said of Thompson’s loss. “I mean, I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but he’s one of the most important players on our offense, especially when you get the ball back and you need him for pass protection and routes coming out of the backfield there on the end.
“We just obviously have to make due with what we have and we will.”
It was an emotional locker room after the game, as players lamented a hard-luck loss that they hoped to win for Thompson.
“It’s tough. Chris was one our best players, if not our best player this year,” quarterback Kirk Cousins said. “This game has tested all of us including him and he’s just had a phenomenal season and it’s going to be challenging to continue to move the ball will all of the guys that we’ve had injured.
“But we’ll find a way and just keep grinding and believe that if we do that, good things will happen.”
For his part, Thompson acknowledged the media but was not permitted to speak to them as he walked out on crutches.
Once on the team bus, he tweeted his thoughts directly to fans:
“This hurts. Not being able to go out and perform for my God who blessed me with this ability, my brothers, coaches, and the fans,” he wrote. “But if you know me you know I’m gonna work my butt off to be out there for y’all next season even better than I️ was before. Thanks for the support.”
“Even better than before” is hard to imagine, at least as it relates to his share of the team totals. His 510 yards put him on pace for 816 yards this season. His 294 rushing yards put him on pace for 471 yards this season. Nobody is close to matching his 1,287 yards from scrimmage.
For the last six weeks of the season, Thompson will fade into the background, go through surgery and start his recovery process.
Whether or not he can return to form in 2018 is a cliffhanger storyline worth waiting for.