KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- De'Anthony Thomas caught 23 passes for 156 yards last season for a feeble average of 6.8 yards per catch. In that regard it wasn’t a great NFL debut for Thomas, though in his defense he missed his rookie season’s first four games with an injury.
The Kansas City Chiefs need a lot more from Thomas as a receiver this year and judging from the first two weeks of offseason practice, they intend to get it. Thomas is now practicing with the receivers and position coach David Culley instead of the running backs, as he did last season.
That indicates the emphasis they are placing on getting more from Thomas, their fastest player. Offensive coordinator Doug Pederson revealed the reasoning for the move.
“You saw him more as a receiver last year anyway,’’ Pederson said. “We wanted to broaden his horizon on running routes because you don’t get all that when you’re in the running back room. You’re not on the perimeter that much. So let’s stick him over there with David Culley and let him teach him to run all the routes and the different concepts.’’
The Chiefs can and probably will still use Thomas from a variety of spots. But because he’s only 5-foot-8 and 176 pounds, there’s a limit to what they can get from him as a back. That’s why the move makes a lot of sense.
“The one thing you have to be careful of is really moving him to and teaching him a couple of different positions,’’ Pederson said. “Leave him in one spot and let him flourish there. Teach him everything at that one spot.’’
For all of the attention focused on the fact that Chiefs' wide receivers didn’t have a touchdown catch last season, a bigger problem was a lack of big pass plays. Thomas needs to play a part in fixing that. Good for the Chiefs they’re attempting to let him do that.