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Sandys/The Washington Post) The 663 combined receiving and rushing yards and five touchdowns are career highs. But what has made running back Chris Thompson so valuable to the Washington Redskins this season has been his blitz pickups in pass protection. Not accorded the same fanfare as touchdowns, although deeply appreciated and respected by quarterback Kirk Cousins and the offensive line, Thompsons blocking ability is surprising for his size (5 feet 8, 195 pounds). And it has played a key role in keeping Cousins upright and the NFLs No. 3 offense churning. Thompson has gotten better at the thankless task in his third season as a pro better able to anticipate blitzes by reading the eyes and hip rotation of defensive backs. It comes with experience, Thompson said this week. The game has slowed down a whole lot more for me, so I see things happening before. I see everything a lot easier now. But Thompson said his pass-blocking skills owe their biggest debt to his Florida State position coach, Eddie Gran, whod previously developed pro-caliber backs Cadillac Williams and Ronnie Brown at Auburn. Gran took Thompson aside as a young player and told him the following: If you really want to make it in the NFL, and make it a long time, you need to be a good pass blocker. You can run the ball, and you can catch the ball really well.

For the original version including any supplementary images or video, visit https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/football-insider/wp/2016/12/29/running-back-chris-thompson-more-proud-of-blitz-pickups-than-career-high-five-tds/

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