Phillip Thomas aims to play his way back into Redskins’ safety plans


Phillip Thomas, back after missing his entire rookie season because of a foot injury, was last seen in the 2013 preseason opener, at right, closing on on Shonn Greene, center, with London Fletcher. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

Second-year safety Phillip Thomas is back on the field and potentially back in the Washington Redskins’ plans after missing his entire rookie season because of a Lisfranc mid-foot injury suffered during a preseason game last summer.

“I’m feeling a lot more comfortable, being a year into the system and just getting the communication down and everything,” Thomas said following an offseason practice last week at Redskins Park. “It feels a lot more comfortable. I’m just healthy and I’m out there doing what naturally comes to me.”

Thomas was a fourth-round draft selection by the Redskins last year out of Fresno State and was in line to perhaps earn a starting job entering his rookie season. Instead, he sat out while fellow rookie Bacarri Rambo began the season as a starter but quickly fell out of the playing rotation.

“I definitely look at it as a redshirt year,” Thomas said. “It gave me time to learn the playbook, see what other people are doing right and try to mimic them, see what they’re doing wrong and make sure I keep it out of my game. That’s what everybody tells me. It’s a feel-good thing to say it’s a redshirt year because of course I don’t want to be out. But it gave me time to mature and learn the defense.”

The Redskins re-signed one veteran safety, Brandon Meriweather, in free agency this offseason and added another, Ryan Clark. Thomas and Rambo probably will have to play their way back into the team’s immediate plans for playing time on defense.

“It’s just getting better every day,” Thomas said. “Brandon and Ryan are veterans in this league, been doing it for a long time. I can learn a lot from them still, just going out there and competing and putting everything I have on that field and leaving it up to the coaches to make it a hard decision. If I don’t end up starting [on defense], I want to be the starter on every single special teams and just run down there on kickoffs, punts, anything I can do to help the team.”

Have a Redskins question? Send an e-mail to mike.jones@washpost.com with the subject line “Mailbag question,” and it might be answered on Tuesday in The Mailbag.

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Mark Maske covers the NFL for The Washington Post.
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