The prevailing narrative was that the Heads of Kansas City signed Justin Reid far from Houston Texans in free agency when they decided to switch from All-Pro security three times Tyrant Mathieu.
It was a one-on-one replacement, nice and neat.
The reality is that Mathieu’s replacement may already have been on the squad in the form of Juan Thornhill, who has been a starter in and out of lineup in his first three seasons in the league. With the departure of Mathieu and Dan Sorensen in free agency, Thornhill is the only safety on the roster with a lot of experience in defense of coordinator Steve Spagnuolo.
Thornhill also has a more versatile skill set than Reid, which is the quintessential confidence to hit hard, with a unique ability not to fall into cover but also to hit the quarterback and get into the box against the run.
“I love being the oldest kid in the room with a bunch of rookies,” said 26-year-old Thornhill after a sweltering workout during Kansas City’s three-day mandatory mini-camp. “I need to lead the way, take on that role.”
He had a great role model himself in Mathieu, who arrived in Kansas City around the same time Thornhill was drafted.
For the past three years, Thornhill has had the best possible place to watch Mathieu not only do his job on the pitch, but exhibit the kind of leadership off the pitch that made him invaluable. Mathieu was the leader of the defense, the one who put the players in the right position on defense and collected them at his house for barbecues on free days.
Mathieu, who has experience with two torn ACLs, also helped Thornhill deal with a devastating knee injury that ended his rookie season, and deflected what had been a promising start to his career for a while.
“I was really comfortable when he was here because I knew he was the kind of guy to be the leader and I would just follow in his footsteps,” Thornhill said. “Now is my time to take on that role and get everyone in line.”
This includes Bryan Cook, a Cincinnati second-round pick who could become a crucial piece of defense.
“It’s definitely a role I want to take on,” Thornhill said. “I want the kids to have fun. Sometimes playing this game, it may seem like there is a lot of pressure on you, but we don’t want that pressure. We just want to go out there, have fun and enjoy the game. It’s when you play a lot,” when you are at ease and you bond on the pitch “.
Make no mistake – this is a great year for Thornhill.
He started all 16 games as a fresh rookie from Virginia, making 58 tackles with three interceptions and one touchdown. But the injury remained in Year 2, when he only started eight of 16 games and saw his playing time decrease, and Thornhill was left to fight for his place in direct base defense last season.
He ended up starting 12 of 17 games with a career record of 64 tackles, preparing him well for a crucial contract year.
The Steelers reportedly opened the securities market on Wednesday when they agreed with Minkah Fitzpatrick on a multi-year $ 73.6 million deal that includes a $ 36 million guarantee. This follows the big deals that were awarded to Seattle’s Jamal Adams, Baltimore’s Marcus Williams and AFC West Denver rival Justin Simmons.
“I had high expectations. It’s that simple,” Thornhill said. “I plan to play my best football, by far, at the top of my game. I expect an All-Pro season. I say that right now.”
In other news, the Chiefs said defender Frank Clark was sacked from training for a second consecutive day as rookie cornerbacks Trent McDuffie and Joshua Williams did not train after leaving coaches on Tuesday.
Others who haven’t trained included left tackle Orlando Brown Jr., who has yet to sign his franchise match and is not required to show up; running back Jerick McKinnon, who was signed just this week; the backup offensive lineman, Prince Tega Wanogho; defensive end Malik Herring; and right-wing tackle Lucas Niang, who is still rehabilitating a knee injury.
Chiefs manager Andy Reid is expected to discuss the minicamp after final practice on Thursday, so the Chiefs will take the rest of the summer before reporting in late July to their training camp at Missouri Western State University.
Associated Press Report
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