Wednesday, December 18, 2013

'Last thing' Thomas wants to be is 'a flash in the pan'


A week ago, Michael Thomas was an unknown defensive back on the San Francisco 49ers' practice squad. Now, he's basking in new-found fame as the defensive hero of the Miami Dolphins' win over the New England Patriots.

His pass break up and interception in the game's final stages sealed the victory for his new team and netted him the the AFC defensive player of the week award, the league announced on Wednesday.

Thomas was signed away from the 49ers' practice squad last week and was forced into action by injuries in the Dolphins defensive backfield. The Stanford University alum had never played an NFL snap before stepping to help halt Tom Brady's latest comeback attempt.

“It has been crazy, and to be honest, it hasn’t really sunk in yet,” Thomas told the Miami Herald. “I’m going to remember this one for the rest of my life. My teammates trusted me, the newcomer.”

Thomas said after the game that he had not practiced defense, only special teams in his first days in Miami. But when needed, he was able to showcase the natural ability that made the 49ers and their coach Jim Harbaugh, who was also Thomas' coach at Stanford, covet his talent enough to voluntarily raise his practice squad salary for this season.

After the Dolphins put in their claim, Harbaugh tried to convince him to stay in San Francisco.

“It was a difficult conversation, but I had to take my chance,” Thomas said. “Two years on the practice squad, I know what it’s like to watch everybody else compete. It’s like you’re being teased.”

That chance grew into an opportunity for playing time, which Thomas turned into a signature moment for a young, undrafted defensive back. His focus has shifted to making sure that he can turn his opportunity into something bigger.

“This is only significant if I can build on it,” Thomas said. “The last thing I want to be is a flash in the pan.”

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