Phillip Thomas says he’s catching on to Redskins’ defense

July 31, 2013

Rookie safety Phillip Thomas was a fourth-round pick by the Redskins in April from Fresno State (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

RICHMOND — Rookie safety Phillip Thomas said Wednesday he feels he is now reaching a point where he is comfortable enough with the Washington Redskins’ defense to begin to show what he can do on the practice field.

“I think I’m getting to that point,” Thomas said. “These last few days, it’s just been showing because I’ve been through it before and I don’t really have to think. In OTAs, I was thinking a lot. I was getting the [defensive play] call and I was like, ‘Okay, if this happens, I have this.’ And now when I get the call, I just can go out there, look at the offense and just play ball.”

Thomas missed about a week of the Redskins’ offseason practices, or organized team activities, because of a league rule keeping rookies out of OTAs until their class has graduated at their particular school.

“I fell really behind,” Thomas said. “I missed about a week where everybody was getting the slow install of everything. And so when I came in, I was about a week behind and it kind of showed throughout OTAs a little bit. But now that I’ve come back here and I’ve heard those things … it’s starting to pick up a lot. And Coach Raheem [Morris, the Redskins’ secondary coach] is telling me and letting me know that it’s starting to show, that I’m a more athletic guy than what it looked like.”

The main issue, Thomas said, was picking up the wording used by the Redskins for their defensive play calls.

“Just the verbiage, the terminology of everything,” Thomas said. “We ran a similar defense in college at Fresno State. I’m cool with all the concepts of everything. But then when things changed around, when I had to make a call or check, it was a different word. And I kind of would stumble or be late on the calls. I need to be very fast about it.”

Thomas, a fourth-round draft choice by the Redskins in April, has been practicing with the second-team defense in training camp while fellow rookie safety Bacarri Rambo, a sixth-round pick from Georgia, works with the starters. After the Redskins ranked 30th in the NFL in pass defense last season, there is potential playing time to be earned for the team’s group of rookie defensive backs that also includes cornerback David Amerson, a second-round selection from North Carolina State.

“I’m starting to feel very comfortable, this being the second time around after going through OTAs,” Thomas said. “I feel really comfortable and my athleticism is starting to show out there where I don’t have to think about things more so. I can just be a player and react.”

Have a Redskins question? E-mail Mike Jones at mike.jones@washpost.com with the subject line “Mailbag question” for him to answer it in The Mailbag.

Follow: @MikeJonesWaPo | @MarkMaske | @john_keim @Insider | @PostSports

What’s ahead:

● Today’s second practice is 3:20 p.m. If you’re going to Richmond, check our our guide to training camp for tips on getting autographs, parking and more.

● A post checking in with place kicker Kai Forbath.

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Cornerback Chase Minnifield plays feisty, is not worried about knee

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D.C. Sports Bog: James Brown on Cowboys fans in D.C.

Observations from Tuesday’s training camp practices | Previous days

D.C. Sports Bog: Redskins-themed food in Richmond

How much will the defensive losses hurt the Redskins?

Nobody’s quite sure what to expect from Chip Kelly and Week 1 opponent Eagles

D.C. Sports Bog: Fred Smoot recalls getting tied to the goal post  | More Bog & Redskins

The Early Lead: Seahawks WR Percy Harvin needs hip surgery

Mark Maske covers the NFL for The Washington Post.
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Mark Maske · July 31, 2013