Second-year linebacker JT Thomas is beginning to emerge and could add valuable depth to the Bears linebacker core this year. Thomas missed all of last year after being drafted in the sixth round, but is now pushing to make the roster.
During Thursday's preseason game against the Broncos JT Thomas was all over the field making plays for the Bears defense. In total Thomas finished with seven total tackles, on tackle for a loss and a pass breakup in coverage. Not a bad days work for your first live action in nearly a year.
Not only was Thomas making tackles we was being disruptive when he wasn't making tackles, taking on blocks well and forcing cutbacks. Thomas now puts him in contention for a roster spot after he was somewhat of an after thought missing last year.
Thomas showed good athleticism, especially in the pass break up. He dropped back into his deep enough and quickly enough to take away the seam pass attempt to the TE. He got a hand on the ball and looked sharp in doing so.
Against the run Thomas was always attacking down hill towards the football. He read his keys well and made plays all over the field. During one play he got penetration into the backfield with Nate Collins and dropped the running back for a loss.
Thomas' playing time with the first team now figures to increase with Geno Hayes and Dom DeCicco both battling nagging injuries.
He lined up with the first team unit today as the strong side linebacker, something he should do well at after what he showed against the Broncos.
The key for him is his pass coverage in the zone and his ability to stretch out the run play against the TE and turn it back inside both in the power game and in the outside zone stuff. The better Thomas holds his ground and gets down the line of scrimmage the better for the backside defenders like Urlacher and Briggs.
Thomas' progress now puts him squarely in the race to provide much needed depth at the linebacker position. Thomas ability to play either the strong side of the weak side benefits his chance to make the roster.