When the Redskins selected Florida State running back Chris Thompson with the 154th overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, they did so with the understanding that he was a work in progress.
As a senior at Florida State last season, Thompson had 687 yards through eight games before tearing his ACL against Miami.
This injury came one season after Thompson suffered another career-threatening injury: compression fractures to the C5 and C6 vertebrae in his spine.
"I have a whole lot of faith and believe everything happens for a reason. I had my injuries but I was able to battle back," Thompson said. "I just have a story that shows you can become better from these injuries."
Through it all, Thompson is grateful that the Redskins showed faith in him with a fifth-round draft pick, fully understanding that he could have gone undrafted.
"It's meant a lot that the organization believed in me to draft me being injured when they could of easily picked me up after as a free agent," he said during the Redskins' rookie mini-camp. "That just pushes me even more and to get back on the field healthy and do the best that I can."
Thompson said that he was in regular contact with assistant head coach/running backs coach Bobby Turner going into draft weekend and had a good feeling about the Redskins.
Clearly Turner, known for selecting undervalued running backs late in the draft, looked at what Thompson was able to accomplish while healthy at FSU.
In his collegiate career, Thompson amassed 1,735 yards on just 277 carries, an impressive 6.26 yards per carry. His 7.54 yards per carry in 2012 ranked first in FSU history, ahead of Warrick Dunn's 7.48 mark in 1995.
On top of being physically strong, Thompson also exhibited perseverance, earning the team's Leadership Award and the ACC's Brian Biccolo Award as the most courageous player in 2012.
That mental toughness will serve him well as he watches practices from the sideline and attempts to learn the playbook while rehabbing his knee.
"The biggest thing is just mental work. Physically I have been playing ball for a while," he explained. "I think it's kind of good that I was able to just sit back and get everything in mentally before I actually get out on the field.
"Just being in the meeting rooms, trying to learn these plays, different terminology—it's all completely different for me."
Thompson will have the advantage of learning the playbook behind Alfred Morris, who keyed the Redskins' top-ranked rushing attack last season.
Even through three days of meeting and practice, Thompson is starting to see the differences between the zone blocking done at FSU and his new playbook.
"As far as the numbers that they use here, we used the same numbers [at Florida State] but we lined up on different sides," he said. "A lot of the plays that we went through are plays I did at Florida State so I feel very comfortable with it.
"I'm just ready to get out on the field now and just be able to do it and show these coaches that I'll be able to do it."
Over the last two seasons, Thompson has spent more time in the training room than on the football field, but understands that rehab and rest are the keys to a successful recovery.
"It's tough. Just being out here seeing these guys practicing it's kind of tough, but I just have to be patient," he said. "I know my time will come and just have to make the best of the opportunities when they present themselves."
Thompson is already running again, an encouraging step to getting back on the field.
"I'm sprinting, doing a little cutting and moving around," he said. "I'll probably be able to do a little bit [during OTAs], but for the most part they're not going to release me and just let me run wild until training camp.
"No question about it, I'll be back [for training camp]."
Head coach Mike Shanahan has a history of going with the hot hand at running back, regardless of seniority or contract considerations.
Thompson will have an opportunity to contribute, and the competition for playing time is something he looks forward to above all else.
"Honestly, that's the fun part. Competing against the guys makes me play even harder," he said with a grin. "At the same time, we're getting each other better, so I'm glad I'm here being able to compete with guys.
"Alfred [Morris] had 1,600 yards rushing, so he's the top guy, but I'll be able to come in and hopefully help ease the pressure off of him a little bit [and] just continue to compete."