J.T Thomas on Learning From the All-Pros.........
August 12, 2011
Thomas learning from two all-time greats
By: Larry Mayer | Last Updated: 8/12/2011 4:27 PM
BOURBONNAIS, Ill. – The first time he entered the linebackers room, rookie J.T. Thomas probably wanted to ask veteran teammates Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs for their autographs.
“It’s kind of hard [not to be in awe] being that Brian and Lance are so good,” said Thomas, a sixth-round draft pick from West Virginia. “Those are the guys that I’ve looked up to being a linebacker.”
Linebacker J.T. Thomas was chosen by the Bears in the sixth round of the NFL Draft.After working with Urlacher and Briggs during the first two weeks of training camp, Thomas is even more impressed with the perennial Pro Bowlers than he was while watching them from afar.
“They’re really cool guys,” Thomas said. “They accept you with open arms. They teach you as much as they can. I know they probably get tired of us asking so many questions, but we have a lot to learn as rookies and they know a lot.”
Thomas and the rest of his rookie teammates apparently aren’t the only ones doing the learning.
“What surprised me the most is that Brian’s been in the league forever and so has Lance, but they’re still learning things every day,” Thomas said. “They’re still finding ways to improve their game. It’s not like they’re sitting back in the meetings. They’re still learning the ins and outs of the defense every day.
“They’re getting better over the years. They don’t know all the answers. They’re figuring them all out though. That’s what amazes me most about the older guys. The thing that separates them from us right now is they communicate so well on the field, they play so well together. Hopefully me and the rest of the rookies can all reach that level one day. You can really tell how much experience matters in the NFL.”
Thomas had a chance to observe Urlacher and Briggs up close when he worked alongside them with the No.1 defense for the first six days of camp before veteran Nick Roach was permitted to practice.
“It was great. I got a little taste of what it was like to be out there with the older guys,” Thomas said. “That’s why I made those points about what separated being out there with the ones and being out there with the younger guys—definitely the communication.
“Brian pretty much knows the play before the ball is snapped and so does Lance. For a while I got a little dependent on hearing them call out the formations and things of that nature. When I was with the twos and threes, I had to be that guy to kind of figure out the formations and what they were running. So it was good to experience both worlds.”
Thomas joins the Bears after starting all 39 games at weakside linebacker over his final three years at West Virginia. Last season the 6-1, 236-pounder recorded 73 tackles, seven tackles-for-loss and 2½ sacks and was named first-team All-Big East for the second straight season.
Thomas has impressed Bears coaches in training camp and hopes to carry that over into Saturday night’s preseason opener against the Buffalo Bills. His status for the game is uncertain, however, after he exited Thursday’s practice with an injury.
“Hopefully I can stick to my keys and do some of the things that I’ve practiced,” Thomas said. “But at some point or another you’ll just be instinctive and be a player. They want to see us make some plays.
“It’ll be good to get out there in front of a different offense and someone we haven’t seen day-to-day and see how well not only that I do but the team does.”