KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Chiefs should have an explosive offensive player back in the lineup Sunday.
Rookie running back/wide receiver De’Anthony Thomas (hamstring) returned to practice Wednesday in a limited fashion, marking his first practice since Sept. 3.
The Chiefs’ fourth-round pick missed the first two regular-season games, but appears on track to play against the Miami Dolphins barring a setback.
Another good indication of Thomas’ availability is he talked to the media inside the locker room where he said it was hard watching instead of playing.
“I felt like it was tough,” Thomas said. “I have been waiting for this moment my whole life to play in my first NFL game, so I’m very excited to play and help this team win.”
Thomas’ return couldn’t come at a better time, as the Chiefs are likely without running back Jamaal Charles, who suffered a high ankle sprain in Week 2.
The Chiefs will lean on Knile Davis to carry the load, but can utilize in the dynamic Thomas in the passing game and as a change-of-pace rusher.
The 5-9, 174-pound Thomas lined up at various positions throughout training camp, including split wide as a receiver, slot wide receiver and tailback.
“Another weapon,” quarterback Alex Smith said, “another playmaker. Hopefully the more of those you present to a defense, the harder they all are to defend as a whole.”
While Thomas could also resume his role as the team’s punt returner, coach Andy Reid indicated the Chiefs could lean to not filling the rookie’s plate for now.
“We will ease him in,” Reid said, “but he’s healthy and ready to go.”
The Chiefs can continue to lean on wide receiver Frankie Hammond Jr. to return punts if Thomas isn’t ready to take back that role.
Thomas returned a punt 80 yards for a touchdown in the first preseason game against the Cincinnati Bengals.
PREDICTING A COLLEGE FOOTBALL GAME
[Publisher’s full disclosure: I’m a Kansas State alumnus and had to get Dee Ford’s thoughts on Thursday night’s football game.]
Rookie outside linebacker Dee Ford, the Chiefs’ first-round pick, has special interest in a college football game Thursday night.
Ford’s alma mater, No. 5 Auburn (2-0), travels to Manhattan, Kan., to face No. 20 K-State (2-0).
Ford said he plans to be in Manhattan to watch the game, and had no doubt on the outcome.
“I’m not really concerned,” Ford said. “I just want to go see my boys win. We’ll win. I’m not going to put a definitive score on it, but we’re going to win.”
Of course, Auburn must contend with K-State quarterback Jake Waters, who comes off a game where he passed for 239 yards and rushed for 138 yards and two touchdowns against Iowa State.
Ford admitted he hasn’t watched Waters play, but knows his former teammates won’t take the Wildcats signal caller lightly.
“They’re concerned,” Ford said. “I’m not. They have to be concerned. Can’t sleep on any team. That’s why Auburn is Auburn. Treat it like the next opponent, SEC or whatever.”
Ford also didn’t want to put too much stock into an SEC power playing against a consistent Big XII football program.
“It’s always things to look at to make it more exciting,” he said. “But at the end of the day, it’s ball. Just a W.”
Ford knew I went to K-State and the final banter at his locker went like this:
Ford: “Sorry, bro. I hate to be that way.”
Me: “It’s all good.”
Ford: “I hope it is. It should be a good one, though. Are you all a good team?”
Me: “K-State is a good team.”
Ford: “That’s good. You’re going to need to be a good team.”
NOTES: Running back Jamaal Charles (ankle) and strong safety Eric Berry (ankle) did not practice Wednesday … Running back/wide receiver De’Anthony Thomas and outside linebacker Tamba Hali (ankle/knee) were limited in practice.