Chiefs eager to evaluate De’Anthony Thomas, other young players in season finale

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Chiefs plan a youth movement for Sunday’s season finale against the Denver Broncos, and while most eyes will fixate on quarterback Patrick Mahomes, the team’s coaches plan to evaluate all their young talent.

Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver De’Anthony Thomas celebrates a 57-yard touchdown reception from Alex Smith against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Arrowhead Stadium Oct. 15, 2017. (Photo by Justin Olson,

Offensive coordinator Matt Nagy picked a surprising name as the player he’s most eager to watch aside from Mahomes.

“I think DeAnthony (Thomas),” Nagy said. “It’ll be good to see De’Anthony get out there and have a chance to do some things. He’s been here for a while, you forget how many years he’s been here. It will be exciting to see him get out there.”

Thomas is excited for the opportunity as well.

“Just get in there and hopefully motivate our team, make some big plays for us and just show what I can do,” Thomas said. “Just get in the rhythm on offense and stuff like that.”

Thomas looms as an intriguing figure during Kansas City’s coming offseason. Thomas, still just 24 years old, is a free agent in the offseason. He’s in the final season of his four-year rookie contract. Given his late transition from running back to wide receiver in his second year with the Chiefs, he remains an intriguing prospect.

Thomas hauled in 14 catches for 143 yards this season with a career-high two touchdown receptions. The former Oregon standout said

“I learned a lot throughout the season,” Thomas said. “It’s Week 17, so Week 1 through training camp running different routes just running different routes.”

Thomas, Demarcus Robinson and Jehu Chesson figure to receive the bulk of the playing time on offense. The Chiefs enter the game without wide receiver Tyreek Hill, who will miss the game while attending a funeral.

“All these guys are in the same boat,” Nagy said. “We don’t know until we see it. Once we get out there, we’ll see what these guys have an opportunity to do.”

Wide receiver Jehu Chesson is another young offensive talent hoping to take advantage of playing time against the Broncos.

“Oh my god yes,” Chesson said. “I think any competitor of the game, when they know they’re going to play or even have a chance to compete and contribute to the win for their team is definitely a special opportunity.”

The numbers game at positions such as the offensive line mean some starters still expect to play meaningful roles. That’s especially true if reserve lineman Cameron Erving is unavailable. He missed practice with the flu on Friday.

But the Chiefs plan an extended look at lineman Parker Ehinger, who expects to start at right guard after sitting out the season’s first 15 games.

“It’s such a fine balance to doing that the right and trying to let guys go, and then you only have so many numbers so you have to use guys,” Nagy explained. “Certainly to see Cam get here and get some good action would be great for him. He’s been here now long enough to know our terminology and the communication process on the line. And then also guys such as Parker Ehinger and some of these other guys, it will be a good test for them.”

Nagy acknowledged that the Chiefs avoided leaning on Ehinger as he returned from injury in favor of continuity along the offensive line.

“Not only that but you also don’t have to rush somebody back from an injury because of need,” Nagy said. “He was able to take his time and get back when he’s ready to come out here and play. Now that he’s out at a good spot health wise, let’s go.”

Many of the team’s young players expect to full double duty with special teams responsibilities in addition to offensive and defensive roles, special teams coordinator Dave Toub said.

“We’re just going to ask a lot more of them as far as reps go,” Toub said. “You’re going to see some guys will get 80 reps possibly in this game, that’s a strong possibility. But it’s good for them. The young players need to get playing time, they need to build their resume and show us what they can do for next year as well.

Chesson relishes the opportunity to be busy on Sunday.

“Definitely busy,” Chesson said. “Busy is good. Just ready to embrace that and accept it and run with it.”


Matt Derrick is the lead beat writer for Use the contact page to reach him or find him on Twitter: @MattDerrick.