Cam Thomas did what most players cut from NFL teams after the preseason do. He stayed in shape and kept his cellphone handy.
When the call came, Thomas was physically ready and happy to know that the team beckoning was a familiar one.
“I get to come into a locker room where I know the guys,” Thomas said. “I don’t have to get use to a new team.”
Thomas signed with the Chiefs in June for defensive line depth. He was an experienced hand, having appeared in 101 games with 27 starts in seven NFL seasons.
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Thomas was a fifth-round pick of the Chargers in 2010 after a four-year career at North Carolina. His most productive season in San Diego was his fourth, when he started 10 games and came up with a career-best four tackles in the Chargers’ season finale against the Chiefs.
From there, Thomas moved to the Steelers for two seasons. He then played the 2016 season for the Rams.
After signing with the Chiefs, Thomas faced an uphill battle. The Chiefs had already signed Bennie Logan to play the nose, and then they brought in Roy Miller. They liked what they had at end with Allen Bailey, Chris Jones, Rakeem Nunez-Roches along with Jarvis Jenkins.
Thomas appeared in all four preseason games for the Chiefs, recording three tackles, including one tackle for loss. But he lost the numbers game and was released before the Chiefs’ opener.
“I didn’t know what would happen,” Thomas said. “I put faith in God. I knew He had a plan, so I let it go and do what I could do to stay ready.”
That meant staying in shape, working out at his home in Charlotte, N.C., and keeping his weight where it was (about 330 pounds) when he was released.
And not getting down about missing the start of an NFL season for the first time.
“I had to stay I shape mentally, too,” Thomas said.
Events of last weekend changed Thomas’ career path. Miller, an eight-year veteran, was signed by the Chiefs in August and appeared in seven of nine games. But he was waived by the Chiefs on Monday, two days after his arrest on domestic battery charges in Florida.
That left the Chiefs down a defensive lineman. On Monday, Andy Reid didn’t tip his hand on the team’s plans to replenish the position, but the wheels were in motion to bring back Thomas.
“I had just finished a workout session and got a text from my agent,” Thomas said. “He said the Chiefs were about to call me.”
As for his role now, Thomas said he hasn’t been told anything and there’s still plenty of catching up to do. Logan has been durable in the middle, playing 372 of 626 defensive snaps (59.4 percent), second to Bailey among defensive lineman. Miller had played 78 snaps (12.5 percent).
He’s slotted in behind Logan on the depth chart at nose tackle.
“Whatever they want, wherever they want me,” Thomas said.