De’Anthony Thomas returns to Chiefs practice, takes the heat

06/18/2014 7:40 PM

06/18/2014 8:18 PM

One day after he was forced to leave practice early due to the heat, fourth-round pick De'Anthony Thomas returned to the practice field for another long, muggy session.

This time, however — with temperatures again hovering in the 90s — he made it through.

And afterward, Thomas chuckled a bit when asked if they ran him into the ground the day before.

“Yeah, and me just getting used to this weather and stuff like that,” Thomas said. “I just have to train with it and get better.”

Thomas, who is listed at 5 feet 9 and 174 pounds, missed all 10 voluntary offseason workouts because the NFL prohibits players from practicing with their new teams until their college’s academic calendar is complete. Final exams for Oregon — which runs on the quarter system — weren’t done until Friday.

So while Thomas did participate in the Chiefs' rookie minicamp in May, Tuesday's practice — the first of the team's three-day mandatory minicamp — was his first introduction to Kansas City's sometime-sweltering summer heat.

Thomas was again used as a slot receiver and a running back in Wednesday's practice, and showed glimpses of the speed that excited the Chiefs' front office when the club drafted him in May.

During his three-year career at Oregon, Thomas scored 46 touchdowns in nearly every manner possible — rushing, receiving, kick returns, punt returns — but he says he can already tell the difference between the college and pro games.

“I mean it’s the same scenario, but it’s a lot different,” Thomas said. “I feel like there’s better guys here and better players on offense.”

Thomas still has plenty to learn, too, thanks to his absence, and running backs coach Eric Bieniemy — who has not been shy about coaching Thomas up on the field the last few days — is among the main coaches trying to catch him up to speed.

“I feel like he just makes us be disciplined and being in the right depth in our routes, getting the right foot work on our runs and stuff like that,” Thomas said. “That’s what’s going to make us great. Finishing forty yards down the field, finishing twenty yards down the field. You know, just working hard.”

As a young player who might be counted on to contribute early — he's also an intriguing option on kick and punt returns — every practice Thomas gets from here on out matters. But first, he has to make sure he stays on the field, which means getting accustomed to the Kansas City heat.

Thursday's practice marks the end of the minicamp, and it's the last organized session in which Thomas will get to do so for a while, at least until their preseason training camp begins in mid-to-late July.

However, when asked how he plans to adapt his training to the humidity from here on out, Thomas said he had a pretty simple plan.

“Just got to keep working hard and keep some fluids in my body,” he said.

Injury report

Offensive tackle Donald Stephenson (calf), tight end Sean McGrath (knee) and cornerback Phillip Gaines (ankle) all missed portions of practice.

Receiver Weston Dressler returned to practice after missing a handful of sessions with a hamstring injury.

Cornerback Sean Smith missed his second straight practice because of an illness.

To reach Terez A. Paylor, call 816-234-4489 or send email to tpaylor@kcstar.com. Follow him at Twitter.com/TerezPaylor.

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