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Devin Thomas Learns Balance From Chad Ochocinco

Posted by Matt Terl on August 2, 2010 – 7:55 am

It was kind of a weird offseason for Devin Thomas, if your definition of “weird” includes appearing in a Fantasia video and/or modeling a set of Elmo pajamas in a bathroom. (Then again, Thomas is also the guy who occasionally answers fan letters in person, so maybe this is just a normal few weeks for him. Who knows.)

But Thomas’s offseason concluded at Donovan McNabb‘s Hell Week in Arizona (which Thomas says allowed them to “really build that trust, that friendship”), an event that’s as team-centric as it gets, and he’s coming off two straight impressive days in practice, including a long touchdown catch in heavy coverage during yesterday’s morning session.

And don’t just take my word for it — here’s head coach Mike Shanahan yesterday: “He’s had a couple good days in a row, and he’s made some big plays, and that is what we are trying to see.” Training camp is still young, and — as far as anyone knows — Thomas remains behind veterans Joey Galloway and Roydell Williams on the depth chart, but so far it’s looking promising for the third-year wideout.

So I’m starting to believe Thomas when he says that all of his offseason extracurriculars were secondary to football.

“My mentality’s been football 24/7 anyway,” Thomas told me, when I asked if his offseason had distracted him. “I mean, I had opportunities to do a little modeling stuff aside from football or aside from working out and that’s what I did. And then when it was time to focus up and really just be all football, I did that by being in Miami training with Ochocinco and coming to Arizona and training with McNabb for a week. So, you know, it was not a problem at all.”

Yep. Nothing like training with Chad Ochocinco — noted reality TV star, founder of his own OCNN news network, and ANOTHER guy who has been known to answer fan letters in person — to make an offseason sound less weird.

Then again, Ochocinco has caught nearly 700 passes for almost 10,000 yards, so maybe he’s part of the reason Thomas is having this impressive camp. He certainly seems like a perfect person to teach Thomas the balance between having fun and producing on the field.

Thomas, for one, thinks so. “Dude’s hilarious,” he says of Ochocinco. “He’s like a comedian. But aside from that he’s a hard worker — he works hard so he’s able to talk trash, and that’s something I realized about him. He’s busting his tail but he’s having fun doing it.”

Another guy who’s helping Thomas learn that lesson is his new quarterback, the notoriously goofy Donovan McNabb. Thomas says he and McNabb share a sense of humor, “and I really enjoy that. Jason (Campbell), he wasn’t that type of guy. He was more nonchalant, more laid-back. He’d chuckle a little bit, but McNabb … he’s just a jokester, man. He knows how to have fun but knows how to work hard.”

Personality isn’t something Thomas has had a problem with since arriving in the league — see also: the Mortal Kombat and Thundercats references from his rookie season halfway down this post and his feelings on Power Wheels here — but Redskins fans keep waiting for him to bring his on-the-field production up to the level of his off-the-field quirkiness. This year, Thomas believes he’s learned how to strike that balance.

“I just feel like personality’s something I’ve always had,” Thomas says, “and I enjoy bringing that part of myself to the football field. But at the same time, I wanna make plays, you know? And that’s definitely something I’ve been striving to do. It’s just been hard the last couple years to do stuff in all different kinds of situations but now I feel like this year some big things are gonna happen for me.”

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