Chiefs mailbag: Waiting on RB/WR De’Anthony Thomas

Forecasting rookie running back/wide receiver De’Anthony Thomas’ eventual role among four subjects in this edition of the mailbag.

They have similar backgrounds, for sure.

Like Percy Harvin of the Seattle Seahawks, Chiefs rookie running back/wide receiver De’Anthony Thomas ran track and field, can play various positions on offense and contribute on special teams.

The problem with Thomas right now surrounds his health when considering he hasn’t played in a regular season game since injuring his hamstring on Sept. 3.

He has practiced once, albeit in a limited basis, in that span.

Still, Thomas is a virtual lock to take over punt return duty once he’s back in the fold and 100 percent healthy.

But the lost practice and playing time could prove a detriment on offense, so it’s more than reasonable to expect the Chiefs to ease Thomas into the mix.

Thomas will eventually contribute as a change-of-pace rusher and a receiver out of the backfield or even out of the slot once the Chiefs feel he’s ready. And his presence on the field gives the Chiefs another offensive weapon who will present matchup problems for opposing defenses, much like Harvin or any player of the similar skillset offers.

So to answer the question given the numerous ways the Chiefs can use Thomas – yes.

That is indeed the mysterious question surrounding second-year defensive end Mike Catapano.

The Chiefs placed Catapano on the non-football injury list to start the season. He battled an illness that caused him to miss nine training camp practices in St. Joseph, Mo., four practices in Kansas City and all four preseason games.

Coach Andy Reid addressed Catapano’s situation on Sept. 12, but didn’t have an update.

“It’s a concern obviously,” Reid said. “Our docs are on top of it. He’s had some specialists look at him. They are on top of it. There’s no conclusion that’s been said, but they’re working on stuff there.”

As to what specifically ails Catapano, that also remains unknown.

“Well I’m not sure that I know how to describe it either right now,” Reid said. “We would have to get something from the doctors to tell you that. I’m not exactly in that position.”

Meanwhile, the biggest area demanding caution surrounds speculating on what has stricken Catapano. It is irresponsible to guess what may have happened without having medical documentation and facts, both of which are not public at this time.

The best one can do is hope for the best and a speedy recovery for Catapano.

ProFootballFocus.com’s grading system is perfect for folks into statistic-based performance.

The site does a tremendous job of reviewing every play from a game, and no doubt in recent years has gained a massive following among NFL fans and NFL media. It’s not uncommon to see writers incorporate grades into articles.

Still, PFF and even ESPN’s QBR ratings are not for everyone, especially if a writer or reader has no understanding how a specific grade originates. I can’t effectively explain Fisher’s poor scores because I don’t incorporate PFF’s grading system into my work.

An alternative to monitor Fisher’s progress is based on what you personally observe – the old eye test – and from what the coaching staff says.

To the latter point, Chiefs coach Andy Reid on Monday complimented the second-year offensive lineman. “We like the progress he’s making,” Reid said. “Does he have room for improvement? Absolutely, we all do.”

Meanwhile, something to remember from Week 3’s game against the Miami Dolphins: Running back Knile Davis’ 21-yard touchdown run began with a nice seal block thrown by Fisher.

That has to count for some positive.

Midseason trades in the NFL are a funny animal, and it would surprise if the Chiefs made a move to secure an offensive lineman. Keep in mind right tackle Donald Stephenson is eligible to return to the roster on Tuesday, Sept. 30 after serving his four-game suspension.

Still, the NFL is forever based on expecting the unexpected, so never discount the possibility of a trade leading to the 4 p.m. ET trade deadline on Tuesday, Oct. 28.

Meanwhile, former Chiefs wide receiver Dexter McCluster, left tackle Branden Albert, guard Jon Asamoah, guard Geoff Schwartz and defensive end Tyson Jackson signed lucrative multi-year free-agent deals with other teams during the offseason.

And salary is the driving force behind the secretive formula the league uses to determine the amount of picks rewarded to a team.

The Chiefs are virtually assured to receive compensatory picks based on the league’s guidance: “A team losing more or better compensatory free agents than it acquires in the previous year is eligible to receive compensatory draft picks. The number of picks a team receives equals the net loss of compensatory free agents up to a maximum of four.”

The league generally announces compensatory picks during the annual NFL owner’s meeting.

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Have a Chiefs-related question? Tweet them to @HerbieTeope or hashtag #ChiefsDigest. But note only my Twitter followers will get questions featured here.

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