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Rookie Spotlight: Phillip Thomas

Posted by Stephen Czarda on July 31, 2013 – 2:07 pm

(AP Image)

(AP Image)

Each day during training camp, the Redskins Blog will be highlighting one rookie as they participate in their first professional camp and try to find their way onto the final roster. Today’s spotlight is on safety Phillip Thomas.

In the months between Super Bowl XLVII and the NFL Draft, the Washington Redskins were heavily linked to several safeties and cornerbacks. While the secondary showed flashes of potential at times last year, they struggled to keep opponents out of the end zone and only recorded 11 interceptions as a unit.

Thomas had been linked to the Redskins’ 51st pick in the draft, but after the team selected NC State cornerback David Amerson it seemed all but certain that Thomas wasn’t going to be making the cross-country trip to our Nation’s Capital.

He was a unanimous All-American selection after leading the nation in interceptions (eight), ran a mid-four 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine and was rated by nearly every draft “expert” as a second round pick.

In the fourth round, 68 picks after Amerson was taken, Thomas was packing his bags for Washington, D.C. It’s been a whirlwind last few months for Thomas, who called California home his entire life, but now that he has settled in all he wants to do is play.

“I want to play,” Thomas said.  “I’m fighting for a job right now, and if I am able to get that job, great. If not, I know I’ve been working my butt off. I will play any position on special teams to make an impact. I just want to help this team.”

Learning from the veterans

Seven-year veteran Reed Doughty always seems to find his way into the starting lineup year after year. Already a special teams ace, Doughty has a do whatever it takes mentality that Thomas is hoping to emulate.

“I talk to Reed a lot since he plays the same position,” Thomas said. “Learning how to play the position, how to disguise things, learning how to deal with situations.”

DeAngelo Hall is another veteran Thomas has clung to for advice over the past few months. The three-time Pro Bowler has started every game since Haslett’s arrival in 2010 and knows the ins and outs of the scheme.

“DeAngelo is a smart dude,” Thomas said. “He is explaining things in the meeting room that I don’t see all the time. I’m trying to get to that level where I know what’s going to happen before it does happen.”

Living with Mr. Popularity

During OTAs in June, defensive backs coach Raheem Morris told the rookie that he wanted them to bark out what was going on so they fully understood everything that was being taught to them.

“It’s something we’re working on, just to get used to all the plays, the different things they’re throwing at us and all the communication,” Thomas told the media. “It’s a little slow right now, they’re throwing a lot of things at us, but just when I speak, when I make a call, just make it loud so everybody can hear it and so everybody can get on the same page.”

Thomas joked that his training camp roommate Bacarri Rambo has taken those words of wisdom and applied it to his social life.

“I’m on the phone a lot when we get down time. He’s on the phone every minute,” Thomas said. “He will probably be on the phone when he’s done with his interviews.”

Five W’s and One H

Who do you model your game after?

“I would really just want to be me. I feel like I can be a safety that changes the game. I feel like I can be a bigger safety that plays in the box but also can drop back in coverage. If I had to choose I would say Ed Reed, because I like to be a ball hawk.”

What is your greatest childhood memory?

“Getting drafted. I was a Redskins fan my whole life. It didn’t matter what round or if I was a free agent. Just to get here and be on the team that I was rooting for my whole life was amazing. That was the highlight of my life.”

Where is your favorite place to relax?

“In my room at home. I like to play video games. Everybody challenges me in 2K, and I feel like I’m the best on the team. Alfred Morris challenges me all the time. I will beat everybody though. I play with the Knicks and Clippers.”

When did you start growing your hair out?

“I started my freshman year of college. It started [at] probably about an inch long. I went through a time when everybody made fun of my hair, but now since it grew out, it’s cool.”

Why did you major in criminology?

“I took a general class one semester and I just enjoyed it. I thought it was something I could enjoy, because I didn’t want to get into a career where I was bored. It seemed exciting, then you see all the movie with the car chases, and I know it’s not like that, but I could be excited to do that.”

How has the Virginia heat been treating you?

The weather has been great. A lot of people told me it was going to be hot and humid, but it’s been great.”

Just wait, Phillip. Just wait.

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