ST. JOSEPH, Mo. — When Chiefs wide receiver De’Anthony Thomas fires down field, he packs a punch that opponents and teammates alike notice, delivering a wallop with ferocity that belies his 176-pound, 5-foot-8 frame.
“He plays like a 200 pounder,” special teams coordinator Dave Toub said. “He is not afraid to stick his head in there on kickoff and make tackles. He is real tough as a gunner.”
Thomas appreciates hearing those words, when often the smallest player on the field stands out and draws focus.
“They’re seeing what I bring to the table, what I bring to the Chiefs,” Thomas said. “Just how I’m trying to contribute whether its offense or special teams, wherever they need me to go.”
Thomas believes the toughness Toub and others see comes from his experiences growing up in South Central Los Angeles.
“That’s where I feel like the ability just growing up there, wanting to play on this level,” Thomas said. “I wanted to show people what I could do. That’s where I think it comes from.”
The 24-year-old Thomas has follow a quixotic path through the NFL in his first three seasons. He earned all-rookie honors in 2014 following a standout career at Oregon.
Thomas immediately ignited the imagination of Chiefs fans in returning a punt for a touchdown in his first preseason game. He collected 1,102 all-purpose yards his rookie season, averaging 11.9 yard per punt return with a touchdown return. He also averaged more than 30 yards per kickoff return.
The 2015 season, however, posed a struggle. Thomas made the move to wide receiver full time. He missed four games due to a concussion and end the season on the non-football injury list.
Last year Thomas began reinventing himself again, carving out a role on special teams in addition to his return skills and contributions on offense.
Yet through all the ups and downs for 2014 fourth-round draft pick, Thomas remains positive and upbeat about his time in the NFL.
“It’s been a great experience,” Thomas said. “Like I said, not too many people get this opportunity, so it’s been a blessing for me.
The Chiefs are searching for a full-time kickoff return specialist to spell Tyreek Hill, and Thomas earns the first shot. The team also can use his speed on kick and punt teams, as well as on offense. A formation taking advantage of Thomas and Hill on the field at the same time poses a distinct speed advantage for the Chiefs.
Thomas feels now has the knowledge and experience to put to good use.
“So many different positions that I have to learn so four years of that experience has been great for me,” Thomas said, ” and now just taking advantage of it and executing it.”
SANTOS MISSES, FINALLY
The perfect run of kicker Cairo Santos cam to an end Saturday amidst a very un-August-like morning in St. Joseph.
Special teams coordinator Dave Toub noted Santos made it through the first seven training camp practices without missing a kick. But Toub challenged his fourth-year kicker in the wind, rain and unseasonal chill at training camp.
Santos missed a medium-range kick that sailed just wide right. He also left a long-field goal short. Both kicks were into the wind.
“We know he’s human now,” Toub joked. “I’d rather have him miss one now than during the season.”
Santos also hit a field goal that banged off the upright and through. He later successfully converted a 60-yard kick with the wind.
SALARY CAP NUMBERS
The signing of defensive tackle Roy Miller leaves the Chiefs with $9,070,531 in available cap room, according to the NFLPA salary cap report.
Miller’s one-year deal contract carries $1.4 million salary this season with $300,000 guaranteed and incentives totaling up to $2.5 million, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
It does not appear that Mill’s incentives are considered likely to be earned as of now. Likely to be earned incentives are counted against the salary cap.
The current salary cap report covers the team’s top 51 contracts. During the season the cap includes all 53 active players along with contracts for players on injured reserve and the practice squad.
Travis Kelce remained out for a second-straight day with knee inflammation, and the several others joined the tight end on the sidelines.
Defensive tackle Bennie Logan departed practice early with a sore knee. Linebacker Reshard Cliett (finger), defensive lineman David King (ankle) and safety Leon McQuay (neck) also saw their practice session cut short.
Cornerback Terrance Mitchell (hamstring) and linebacker Josh Mauga (hip) missed practice but worked with trainers on the sideline. Defensive lineman Chris Jones, who remains on the physically unable to perform list, joined them for workouts. Cornerback Steven Nelson (groin) also missed practice again.
Running back Charcandrick West (ankle) returned to practice on a limited basis.
In addition to Jones, linebacker Tamba Hali
QUOTE OF THE DAY
I think I hear the fans even more here at camp than I do at Arrowhead just because there’s not that many. I hit a ball in warmups the other day and it hit the upright and went in. And some guy’s like, ‘Yep, I saw that in Denver.'”
— Kicker Cairo Santos on the intimacy of training camp in St. Joseph with the fans