ST. JOSEPH, Mo. – The Chiefs no longer designate second-year pro De’Anthony Thomas as a running back/wide receiver on the roster, making his transformation to the latter complete.
The first hint of the move arrived during organized team activities when Thomas worked exclusively with the wide receivers after working with running backs in 2014.
And the experiences of working at both skill positions has an advantage.
“I learned the running back stuff last year, now I’m learning the receiver stuff also,” Thomas said. “It’s just all about learning the whole offense, and I feel like the more valuable I can be to the team, the more time I can be on the field.”
The Chiefs will look for ways to get the explosive and elusive 5-8, 176-pound Thomas in open space. And the team has offered a preview through five training camp practices by lining him in the slot or split wide in three-receiver sets with the first-team offense.
Thomas, who clocked a 4.34 40-yard dash at his Pro Day workout last year, should prove a nightmare matchup for opposing cornerbacks regardless where he lines up.
And that scenario caused excitement for Thomas when asked how big his eyes become when looking across the line of scrimmage to see a taller defender lining up against him.
“Real big,” Thomas said with a grin. “Just making that one move to open his hips up, and that’s the only thing I need, and then next is attacking him. After that, just letting ability take over.”
Thomas has the natural athletic ability, but it also helps to have veteran wide receiver Jason Avant in his ear after every play.
“We always go back to see how we can get better, just being patient,” Thomas said. “He’s always telling me to be patient. I don’t have to run fast every single time, just learn what speed I have to use on different routes.”
FISHER FULLY HEALTHY
The biggest difference for left tackle Eric Fisher this year in training camp compared to 2014 surrounds his health.
Fisher wasn’t 100 percent after undergoing offseason shoulder surgery, but had the benefit of full offseason training where he incorporated boxing into his workouts.
The third-year pro is also stronger.
“I came in here – I’m healthy, I’m strong and I’m confident,” Fisher said. “I’m just coming out here to work every day. We all got the same goal this year, and we’re working for a Super Bowl.”
Fisher’s progress and development as the protector of quarterback Alex Smith’s blindside hasn’t gone unnoticed by coach Andy Reid.
“He looks good,” Reid said. “He had good offseason of lifting, which was very important. He didn’t have a surgery involved with it, so he came back in great shape and it has paid off for him for the few days of life out here.”
• Safety Eric Berry, who returned to the Chiefs at the start of training camp after battling lymphoma, showed the athletic ability that made him an All-Pro selection and a three-time Pro Bowler during 11-on-11 drill with a diving interception. Quarterback Aaron Murray threw into the middle of the field and the pass was deflected off a defender. Berry dove for the ball, securing it before it hit the ground, and received rousing applause from the fans in attendance.
• The defense continued to get in passing lanes with tipped passes and interceptions for a third straight day. Inside linebacker Josh Mauga recorded an interception off quarterback Chase Daniel and cornerback Sean Smith had a tipped pass near the sideline to prevent an Alex Smith completion.
• The Chiefs ran with the same starting offensive line during 11-on-11 drills for a fifth straight day with left tackle Eric Fisher, left guard Ben Grubbs, center Eric Kush, right guard Jeff Allen and right tackle Donald Stephenson. Rookie Mitch Morse and Zach Fulton rotated in for Kush and Stephenson during the second 11-on-11 drills, with Fulton taking right guard and Allen moving to right tackle. The rotation lasted a few plays before the Chiefs returned to the original starting five.
• Former Emporia State tight end Adam Schiltz, who has split time running with the second- and third-team offense, came up with a nice grab on a quarterback Chase Daniel pass down the seam between three defenders.
• With no practice Thursday, Chiefs players are scheduled to be treated to catered barbecue Wednesday evening, courtesy of Zarda Bar-B-Q. The menu calls for 50 full slabs of ribs; 70 pounds of burnt ends; 45 pounds of pulled pork; 40 pounds of sliced brisket; 40 pounds of turkey; 100 pounds of baked beans; and 100 pounds of cheesy corn. The Chiefs return to practice Friday.
Herbie Teope is the lead beat writer and reporter for ChiefsDigest.com. Use the contact page to reach him or find him on Twitter: @HerbieTeope.