For Chiefs speedster De’Anthony Thomas, the waiting is the hardest part

Ex-Oregon running back De'Anthony Thomas spent most of Saturday's rookie minicamp at tailback. 

Mark J. Rebilas/Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Blink, and you’ll miss De’Anthony Thomas.

No. Seriously. You will.

By NFL rules, a player can’t participate in organized team activities and offseason workouts until after the final day of exams, assuming that player hasn’t already graduated. Oregon is on the quarter system, which runs into early next month. Finals in Eugene are June 9-13; graduation is June 16.

Translation: Enjoy the Black Maba while you’ve got him.

After Monday, the former Ducks speedster can’t return to Kansas City until the mandatory minicamp June 17.

"So he and (running backs coach) Eric Bienemy work closely," coach Andy Reid said of Thomas, the team’s fourth-round draft pick, "and every day (they) go over stuff … either by Skype, or however they work it, and talk."

So far, it’s been a long-distance honeymoon between Thomas — who made his Chiefs debut Saturday afternoon at Reid’s rookie minicamp, wearing the number 1 — and his new coaching staff this spring.

And, based on some recent tweets, it’s safe to say Thomas is, shall we say, mildly cheesed off about it:


What, you expect an All-American sprinter not to be in a freaking hurry?

"Yeah, all the guys (are) here, getting this work in, you know," said Thomas, who recently agreed to a reported four-year, $2.66 million contract. "I feel like I’ve also been putting in my work, you know, training, just getting ready to be here. (Saturday) was my first day, and I feel like I did pretty good, and I’m coming back (Sunday) and ready to work."

So: Setback? Or no setback?

"Not at all," Thomas said.

"I mean, we’ll see," Reid said.

Thomas might be the most anticipated of all the Chiefs rookies this spring-slash-summer, largely because he’s a skill player who has a shot to make an impression the fastest. The club lost slot receiver/wingback/return ace Dexter McCluster to free agency and, ostensibly, drafted Thomas — a one-man highlight machine during his college days, accounting for 46 all-purpose touchdowns from 2011-13 — to plug in as Dex’s replacement.

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As first impressions go, the 5-foot-8 Los Angeles native appeared to be as advertised during a two-hour-plus session in helmets and shorts, a toy you can line up and experiment with anywhere.

Mind you, most of Thomas’ time Saturday, curiously enough, was spent at tailback, with the occasional spell in the slot.

"Yeah, he’s done (the slot receiver position) before," Reid said of Thomas, who averaged 37.7 receptions his last three seasons with the Ducks. "We’re using him here — you saw, we had him all over the place. So that’s what we’re going to do with him. (Spread game analyst/special projects coach) Brad (Childress) and Eric are kind of working with him. Brad’s kind of doing a little bit with the spread stuff and that and Eric does stuff with him from the backfield and split-out, a couple split-out things."

During position drills, Thomas dazzled with a cradling, one-handed catch. During 11-on-11s, the ex-Oregon star took a swing pass to the left, cut once and broke about four ankles as he turned the corner.

"Right now, he was able to do everything (Saturday)," Reid noted. "He’s actually holding on to what we’ve given him pretty good."

Setback?


What setback?

"I just feel like I’m a playmaker," Thomas said. "Wherever (Reid) puts me on the field, I’m going to make plays. And just help the team get to the promised land."

You take it on faith. You take it to the heart. The waiting, as the song goes, is the hardest part.

You can follow Sean Keeler on Twitter @seankeeler or email him at seanmkeeler@gmail.com.