Rookie Running Back Already Leaving Impression on Chiefs

Published 08/21 2014 01:12AM

Updated 08/21 2014 01:46AM

(KANSAS CITY, Mo.) During the off-season, the Chiefs let one of their more productive wide receivers walk in free agency.

Dexter McCluster signed with Tennessee leaving an opening in Kansas City, one they filled in the draft with explosive all-purpose back De'Anthony Thomas.

In Thomas' first game suited up in red and white, he showed why the Chiefs could afford to part with McCluster.

On his first punt return as a pro, the former Oregon Duck bounced off a defender, then didn't stop until he reached the end zone 80 yards later.

"Just a close game and I felt like me making a play would get the guys going, motivation to our team. So it was just like a game-changing play."

That game-changing ability is what Kansas City was hoping for when they drafted him out of Oregon.

In three years with the Ducks, Thomas had five kick and punt returns for scores, and amassed 1,353 total yards as a junior.

"De'Anthony is a great football player," Chiefs running backs coach Eric Bieniemy said. "He's done a tremendous amount this camp. The best thing about De'Anthony, he's getting a lot of coaching from a lot of different people. It's been a great team effort."

"Wherever the coaches put me, just go out there, make plays and just contribute," Thomas added.

The utility player's kept an open mind throughout camp working with Bieniemy and the running backs, to wide receivers coach David Culley and spread analyst Brad Childress.

But one of Thomas' biggest influences throughout camp is two-time All-Pro running back Jamaal Charles.

"I learned a lot from those guys. They've motivated me to get through this camp and they've been my role models."

Thomas gave Chiefs fans a taste of what he offers in the preseason opener, but was brought back to earth in game two.

Without a big punt return to pad his numbers, he was held to 32 total yards on five touches against Carolina, but a slow game day won't change the way he works in practice.

"At the end of the day, doesn't matter who's getting the first rep or who's getting the last rep, these guys want to be a great representation for our offense," Bieniemy said. "So they're taking a tremendous amount of pride in being great for the team."

"It's all about heart," Thomas said. "I feel like I have a big heart, very confident in myself just going out there making plays, just trying to be a great teammate."

That's all the Chiefs can hope for out of the explosive all-purpose back.

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