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De'Anthony Thomas' initial impact could be as return man

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  • De'Anthony Thomas' initial impact could be as return man

    De'Anthony Thomas was a full participant for the first two days of Kansas City Chiefs practice this week, a sign his sore hamstring is healing and that his long-awaited NFL debut should come on Sunday against the 49ers in San Francisco.

    The Chiefs will likely try to get him the ball on offense, where the Chiefs are down a starting wide receiver. Donnie Avery was scheduled for surgery to repair a core muscle injury, or sports hernia, today in Philadelphia. He won’t play against the 49ers or probably any time soon.

    So there is an opening to get Thomas the ball some on offense. But his biggest immediate impact could be as a punt returner, where the Chiefs have mostly just been getting by in his absence with Frankie Hammond Jr.

    "We want to get him back there," special teams coordinator Dave Toub said of Thomas. “He’s looking good in practice."

    Hammond had a 47-yard return a couple of weeks ago in Miami. But some of his decisions on whether or not to field a punt have left the Chiefs with some bad field position.

    Thomas might do some of that, initially at least. But Thomas showed with his 80-yard punt return touchdown in a preseason game against Cincinnati that he has enough speed and ability to make it worthwhile.

    "We got him back there enough to where he had to make some tough catches," Toub said. "He made some people miss. He got hit one time, came out of it, spun out and got a touchdown.

    "The thing we don’t know is that this is his first game, his first real game. 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."