KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Chiefs wide receiver De'Anthony Thomas suffered a new fracture during practice Thursday in his right leg, the same leg where he had surgery following a broken tibia in Week 17 last season,
The injury occurred around the old fracture site where Thomas still has a rod remaining in his leg stemming from the previous surgery, according to the team's head athletic trainer Rick Burkholder.
“We'll have to take him from playing now and let that heal up,” Burkholder said. “All indications are right now that he won't need anything done with the rod, won't need surgery and he'll heal up on his own.”
Burkholder didn't place a timetable on his recovery. Head coach Andy Reid didn't rule out sending Thomas to injured reserve, which could end his season.
“Potentially,” Reid said. “(General manager Brett) Veach is going to take care of that and see where that goes.”
Reid said he planned to discuss with Veach later Friday if a roster move before Sunday is necessary. The Chiefs carry two wide receivers on the their practice squad with second-year Gehrig Dieter and rookie Josh Crockett.
"I’ll have to talk to him to see what direction he’s going on that," Reid said. "If we make a move, we make a move and if we don’t we are still okay number-wise."
The loss of Thomas deprives the Chiefs of a valuable resource on both offense and special teams. Thomas caught three passes for 29 yards a touchdown through the first five games of the season, and also added a rush for 6 yards.
But Thomas delivered his biggest contributions on special teams, playing 87 snaps as a kick returner and gunner. He leads the team with four special teams tackles and averaged 19.3 yards on kick returns.
Rookie cornerback Tremon Smith spent most of training camp and the preseason sharing kick return duties with Thomas. Running back Damien Williams and wide receiver Demarcus Robinson also have kick return experience.
“We've got other guys who will step in and pick up the slack there,” Reid said. “We'll be okay. I hate to see that happen to De'Anthony though.”
Thomas suffered the injury on a first-quarter punt return at Denver in Week 17 last season. Denver's M Rios tackled Thomas from behind rolled up behind his right leg. The injury required emergency surgery in Denver following the game, with surgeons inserting a rod to hold bone in place.
Burkholder described the injury as a freak accident. Another player stepped on Thomas from behind leading to the new fracture.
“The rod is still in place, the rod didn't bend,” Burkholder said. “But he did a fracture around the old fracture site.”
Reid said the injury hurts on a personal level beyond the football field.
“I'm sad for the kid,” Reid said. “He's a tough little nut. He'll come back. You hate that to happen with as hard as he's worked to get back.”