The Kansas City Chiefs announced a roster move Saturday morning, placing wide receiver De’Anthony Thomas on injured reserve due to a leg fracture while elevating safety Leon McQuay from the practice squad to the active roster.
The injury occurred during Chiefs practice on Thursday and is the second time Thomas has suffered a leg fracture over the past year, with the first coming in Week 17 of the 2017 season in a game against the Denver Broncos. His first injury required surgery and caused him to miss the 2018 offseason, although his latest fracture is not expected to result in surgery and should heal up more quickly. Chiefs Vice President of Sports Medicine and Performance Rick Burkholder spoke to reporters Friday to provide details as to how Thomas sustained the injury and how it relates to his leg fracture from the previous season.
“On De’Anthony, we’ll take you back to December 31, 2017 where he fractured his leg in a game, had surgery – emergency surgery – in Denver, had a rod put in his leg,” Burkholder said. “That rod is still in his leg. Yesterday at practice, he had what we would all consider a freak accident where he got stepped on from behind and re-fractured his leg. The rod is still in place; the rod didn’t bend, but he did have a fracture around the old fracture site, so we’ll have to take him from playing now and let that heal up. All indications are right now that he won’t need anything done with the rod, won’t need surgery and will heal up on his own, but he’ll need some time to heal up.”
Thomas will be able to return from injured reserve in eight weeks, but with three other key players currently on injured reserve in safety Daniel Sorensen (knee), safety Armani Watts (core muscle surgery) and guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif (broken fibula), the Chiefs will have some decisions to make down the line in terms of which players they want to bring back to the active roster. NFL rules allow teams to return two players per season to the active roster after spending eight weeks on injured reserve.
The loss of Thomas gives the Chiefs a hit depth-wise at the receiver position but most notably on special teams, where he is one of the team’s key return specialists and also plays a role on coverage. Thomas has three catches for 29 yards, one carry for six yards, one punt return for 41 yards, three kick returns for 59 yards, and four tackles with a fumble recovery this season.
Instead of adding a receiver to the roster to replace Thomas, the Chiefs chose to elevate McQuay given the lack of depth they have at the safety position. With Sorensen and Watts on injured reserve, Eric Murray out for this week’s game against the New England Patriots due to an ankle injury, and Eric Berry unlikely to play this week due to ongoing Achilles-related issues, McQuay gives the Chiefs a fourth healthy safety candidate to go with Ron Parker, Jordan Lucas, and Josh Shaw. A sixth-round pick of the Chiefs in 2016 out of USC, McQuay (6-1, 195) spent most of his rookie year on the practice squad developing as a safety before getting his chance to play the Week 17 game against the Broncos, a game in which he made four tackles. He was waived during 53-man roster cuts at the end of the preseason and has been on and off the practice squad over the past several weeks.