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REDSKINS: On-the-bubble players make their case in win

LANDOVER, Md.—Every single game counts, which is one lesson Chris Thompson has learned all too well.

The rookie running back saw his junior season end prematurely after fracturing two vertebrae, initially leaving him questioning whether he’d be able to walk again, let alone play football. He recovered well enough to be able to play his senior season, but was on the field for only eight games before tearing the ACL in his left knee.

Thompson didn’t have the most electric performance in the Washington Redskins’ 30–7 preseason victory over the Buffalo Bills at FedEx Field on Saturday, but what he demonstrated was exactly what someone in his position needs—instinct, dedication, and above all, determination.

“You know, [I’ve] just got to show the coaches that I can play,” Thompson said afterward. “I just want to go out there and you know, make the coaches and the team happy and just help any way I can.”

Thompson carried the ball 15 times for 44 yards against the Bills, all of which came in the second half. He also returned the kickoff to open the second half 27 yards, and he returned three punts for 48 yards—including one for 31 yards late in the third quarter.

In all, Thompson filled a role on a Redskins offense that churned out 452 yards, picked up 27 first downs and ran, remarkably, 81 plays.

“I was impressed with our football team, especially with two days’ less preparation time,” head coach Mike Shanahan said. “For them to come out and play as hard as they did and as well as they did, there was a bunch of positive things.”

Thompson, for the most part, was pleased with his effort. His one glaring mistake was a fumble with roughly nine minutes remaining in the third quarter —though unlike Monday against the Pittsburgh Steelers, when he fumbled and the Redskins lost the ball, they were able to retain possession.

Washington didn’t turn the ball over at all on Saturday, which was an improvement over the last game when it did so four times. Quarterbacks Rex Grossman and Pat White were fairly efficient running the offense in place of Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins, each of whom are recovering from injury, with 11 players catching at least one pass.

Grossman started the game and played the first three series, with White entering for the next three. The two then alternated through the rest of the game, which Shanahan said will give the coaching staff a better opportunity to evaluate players as they worked with each quarterback.

“It was fun to start the game and go with the ones and be in the huddle again,” said Grossman, who went 11-for-21 for 171 yards and a touchdown, a 7-yard strike to Pierre Garçon that capped the Redskins’ first drive. “We didn’t have a long week, obviously, but at least we prepared a little bit and knew that ahead of time.”

While C.J. Spiller ran two yards for a touchdown on the ensuing drive, the Redskins shut out their opponents over the following three quarters. Kai Forbath made three field goals, while White ran 14 yards for a touchdown on an option keeper with 6:01 to play in the second quarter and running back Keiland Williams took a 1-yard touchdown dive with 11:05 left in the fourth quarter.

White, seeing his first extended playing time after a pair of cameos in the first two preseason games, finished 7 for 14 for 96 yards while also running three times for 26 yards and the touchdown.

The Bills, meanwhile, struggled with undrafted rookie Jeff Tuel at quarterback for much of the game after Kevin Kolb left in the first quarter because of what head coach Doug Marrone described as “concussion-like symptoms.” Tuel, from Washington State, went 10-for-17 for 63 yards and led an offense that gained only 155 total yards and went 2-for-13 on third down.

Outside linebacker Darryl Tapp led the Redskins with seven tackles, including a sack in the second quarter, while inside linebacker Bryan Kehl had five tackles and forced a fumble.

Zac Boyer: 540/374-5440