DAVIE, Fla. -- Michael Thomas was one of the few feel-good stories during the Miami Dolphins' tumultuous 2013 season. http://espn.go.com/blog/afceast/post/_/ ... impression
In Week 15, Thomas was claimed off waivers on a Tuesday and made a game-saving interception off future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady five days later in a 24-20 victory over the rival New England Patriots. The interception garnered national headlines in what turned out to be the final victory for the Dolphins last season.
According to Thomas, the attention from that memorable play hasn't ceased.
"I'm really starting to realize how much it meant to everybody in Dolphin Nation," Thomas said after Monday's practice. "I hear it almost daily. I love it, but I want to build from it."
Seven months later, Thomas is out to prove that his late-season heroics were not a fluke. Thomas is aiming to make a lasting impression with the Dolphins during organized team activities (OTAs) and minicamp.
Thomas arrived in mid-December last year while the Dolphins attempted to make a playoff push. He spent only two-and-a-half weeks with the team and there wasn’t much time to teach Thomas the nuances of Miami's defense that other teammates learned in training camp.
This is Thomas' first offseason with the Dolphins, which has helped him play faster and make more plays in practice.
“Finally, I'm getting a chance to understand the scheme a little better," Thomas explained. "I understand what the coaches want me to do instead of freelancing. Now, I'm playing off technique."
Thomas will enter training camp on the roster bubble, but he likes his chances to make the 53-man roster. Miami’s coaching staff strongly values positional flexibility, which is one of Thomas' strengths. He is competing for roles at safety, nickel cornerback and various spots on special teams.
“He’s having a solid camp so far,” Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin said. “Again, the more versatility that some of these guys have and can bring to the football team, the better they’re going to be (and) we’re going to be as a football team. Michael is doing a good job in special teams. He’s doing a good job in defense. I’m happy with his development so far.”
Thomas hopes to finds a permanent home with the Dolphins. The second-year player spent his rookie season on the San Francisco 49ers' practice squad before being claimed by Miami last December.
The Dolphins hope they've found a versatile gem in Thomas, who has the potential to help in several areas.
“It’s about the more you can do,” Thomas said. “You think about a guy like Jimmy Wilson, he does everything for the team. That’s why he’s a baller right now. So I’m really trying to tailor my game after him and every other player who is doing a lot of things.”