Kansas City Chiefs rookie De'Anthony Thomas has missed the first four games of the season with a hamstring injury, and he's listed as probable for the game on Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers.
"I'm Andy Reid saying he's good to go," Reid said Friday afternoon of Thomas.
Thomas, the Chiefs fourth-round pick (No. 124 overall) last May, picked up 45 touchdowns in his three seasons at Oregon, and the majority of his scores highlighted both his speed and athleticism.
Thomas' big-play ability was on display during the preseason with his electric 80-yard punt return for a touchdown against the Cincinnati Bengals. It was at that point that Chiefs fans saw what Thomas was capable of doing with the ball in his hands at the NFL level.
Without Thomas returning punts through the first four games, the Chiefs still found plenty of success with Frankie Hammond taking the duties. The Chiefs rank seventh in the NFL in return average at 11.7 yards and are tied for first in the NFL with three returns of at least 20 yards.
"Last week he looked good in practice but you just have to give it time," special teams coach Dave Toub said. "With a hamstring—you don't want that thing to keep on lingering on."
Thomas said that sitting out the first four games of the season wasn't easy.
"It was tough," Thomas said. "I've never missed four games. I felt like I handled it pretty well. It was a learning experience and I just kept working hard, kept learning the offense.
"Now it's just time to make some plays."
While a hamstring injury can be a touchy thing to come back from because of the possibility of aggravating it again, Thomas said the Chiefs training staff really helped him get back on the field.
Enjoy photos of rookie running back and special teams weapon, De'Anthony Thomas
"[Rick Burkholder] and the training staff helped a lot," Thomas explained. "They got me stronger, healthier. All I've been doing is working on the little things and strengthening every part of my body."
Toub says Thomas' ability won't be a surprise to anyone the Chiefs play even though he has yet to play in a regular season game.
"We got him back there enough [in the preseason] where he had to make some tough catches, he made some people miss," Toub said. "So he's got a little bit on tape so people know about him, that's for sure.
"The thing that we don't know is that this is the first game. This is his first real game so there's going to be a little bit of growing pains probably. That's to be expected but he brings so much to the table as far as what he can do—the big-play factor."