These numbers show De'Anthony Thomas' considerable value to Chiefs

Chief's speedster De'Anthony Thomas is a lightning rod for defensive attention, so he creates space for his teammates. AP Photo/Colin E. Braley

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Offensive coordinator Doug Pederson told me this week that the value of De'Anthony Thomas to the Kansas City Chiefs' offense went beyond his rushing and receiving totals. He said the Chiefs had stats that reflected their offense being much better last season when Thomas was in their lineup as opposed to on their sideline.

ESPN Stats and Info dug up those numbers and they do reflect Thomas’ importance to the Chiefs. They averaged 1.5 more yards per play with Thomas than without. That includes 2.3 more yards per rush and 0.9 more yards per pass.

“The ball doesn’t have to be in his hands all the time for him to have an impact,’’ Pederson said. “Just having him on the field gives us that extra little something to have an explosive play.

“It might be a little different this year now that teams have had a year to study us and look at us, but it definitely presents a dynamic that teams have to prepare for.’’

Thomas’ stats last season as a rookie weren’t dynamic. Playing occasionally as a running back but mostly as a slot receiver, Thomas caught 23 passes for 156 yards and rushed 14 times for 113 yards, including his only touchdown on a run of 17 yards.

That not a lot of production. But Thomas is fast, very fast, and opponents have to respect his speed to the point where his teammates are the ones getting the benefit.

That’s why it’s important for Thomas to play in Sunday’s game against the Texans in Houston. He missed most of the preseason and part of training camp with a strained calf muscle.

But he has been a full participant in the first two full practice sessions of the week, and it would be a surprise if Thomas is listed as anything less than probable for Sunday’s game when the Chiefs issue their final injury report of the week later on Friday.

The Chiefs have to be careful how much they utilize Thomas because he’s only 175 pounds. But even at that size he’s a big piece of what the Chiefs are trying to do offensively and one barometer for their success on Sunday is how often he gets on the field.