De'Anthony Thomas gets more playing time and rewards Chiefs with big play

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Receiver De'Anthony Thomas was on the field for more plays (33) in the Kansas City Chiefs' loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday than in any other game in his three-plus seasons with the Chiefs.

He also delivered, by more than 20 yards, the longest offensive play, a 57-yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter. These two facts probably aren’t coincidence, and in any case, the Chiefs seem ready to find out.

The Chiefs began the Steelers game without two of their top wide receivers, the injured Chris Conley and Albert Wilson, and ended the game without a third, Tyreek Hill.

So some receivers who had been buried on the depth chart, including Thomas, Demarcus Robinson and Marcus Kemp, got more playing time than they normally do. Thomas was the one who had a big play.

“Some guys went down, so we need our receiver group to step up," Thomas said. "I want to be that guy."

The Chiefs may have a similar need for receivers in the games ahead, particularly on Thursday night against the Raiders in Oakland. Hill, who is being evaluated for a concussion, and Wilson, who has a sore knee, could play in Oakland. Conley is out for the season after tearing an Achilles tendon.

Thomas had a touchdown catch of 10 yards in the previous week’s game against the Houston Texans. But his TD against the Steelers was spectacular. He made the catch at the 29, made a defender miss and then outran two others to the end zone.

"I was just getting open," Thomas said. “The quarterback was scrambling. It was just a scramble drill, and I was there for Alex [Smith]."

Thomas has lined up in a variety of spots, including out wide, at slot receiver and out of the backfield. The Chiefs have put his versatility to good use.

“We got him moving around in some different spots," offensive coordinator Matt Nagy said. “He moved around pretty well, and you saw it with the touchdown catch. He did some good things with the ball in his hand.

“We’re in a position where we have a lot of tools with these players and the guys that we have on this team.’’