Greatness would not occur in a single day, it takes time. Everybody grows up dreaming of not solely making the NFL however changing into one of many highest to ever play the sport. Sadly, the truth just isn’t everybody will get to stay out that dream and in the event that they do, a really small p.c of them develop into legendary gamers.
For Carolina Panthers’ tight finish Ian Thomas, it isn’t about chasing greatness. It is not about attempting to develop into the subsequent Greg Olsen. It is nearly bettering day-to-day and creating right into a dependable receiving tight finish. By the primary three years of his profession, Thomas has been a non-factor within the Carolina offense after being drafted within the 4th spherical of the 2018 NFL Draft. As a matter of truth, his manufacturing has not improved after posting 36 receptions for 333 yards and two touchdowns as a rookie.
While you take a look at the variety of receptions, yards, and touchdowns Thomas has recorded to this point in his profession, nothing actually jumps out at you that may lead you to consider he might develop into a No. 1 tight finish. Nonetheless, there may be one hidden statistic that leaves some hope and that is his 65.5% profession catch proportion. For reference, Olsen had a profession catch proportion of 61.8%. Dwelling within the mid-high 60s is a reasonably respectable quantity and is a mark that the majority tight ends goal for at a minimal. Regardless of the excessive catch price, Thomas has not seen a excessive variety of targets as he’s averaging 36.6 targets per season. Most No. 1 tight ends across the league are getting about 70-80 appears to be like on common and that is extra on the conservative aspect.
Those that have learn my content material over the previous yr know that I’m not essentially essentially the most optimistic about Thomas turning into a top quality tight finish however I am making an attempt to see the glass half full and searching for causes that Panthers followers ought to preserve religion in Thomas panning out.
While you take a look at the primary two years of his profession, he was within the shadow of Greg Olsen. As soon as Olsen moved on to the Seattle Seahawks, that lastly opened up a path for Thomas to develop into the group’s go-to goal at tight finish in 2020. It simply so occurred to be that he needed to get aware of a completely new offense beneath Matt Rhule and Joe Brady and to make issues even worse, needed to do a number of the training nearly as a result of pandemic forcing NFL groups to stay at house till the beginning of coaching camp. Based on Thomas, not having a daily offseason/preseason made it more difficult to be taught the playbook, the calls, and every thing else that comes with studying a brand new system. He is already noticing a distinction this offseason by having the ability to partake in minicamp and OTAs.
“I believe doing it in-person slightly than digital was an enormous step for me as a result of it was exhausting staying in tune and locked in via a pc or iPad and studying the little issues of the offense have been actually off to me final yr and this yr is lots simpler as a result of I can truly hear it head to head and truly discuss via it on the sector in order that was an enormous distinction.”
So is it only a matter of settling into the brand new system for Thomas to lastly flourish? Matt Rhule believes so.
“Ian has had an incredible offseason. He appears to be like explosive, he appears to be like athletic. For those who’re speaking a couple of man that is had a great offseason, I might say it might be Ian. He is extra snug with what he is doing. He catches 40 or 50 balls on daily basis from us on daily basis with Coach Angelico and I simply assume for Ian coming in from one system into one other system he was simply form of taking it because it got here. Now, he has an opportunity to actually delve into the small print of what we do. I believe that is a very powerful half for him.”
Final yr, the Panthers did not have a complete lot of choices within the tight finish room which allowed Thomas to be the No. 1 receiving menace amongst that group. This season, his job safety is not going to be as robust even with the super offseason that Rhule talked about. Anytime you signal a veteran like Dan Arnold after which draft a younger man (Tommy Tremble) in a single offseason, it exhibits a scarcity of belief in what you at present have within the tight finish room. If Thomas fails to emerge as a dependable, explosive playmaker within the passing sport, Dan Arnold and Tommy Tremble will proceed to see increasingly reps. Arnold will probably be the No. 1 tight finish out of coaching camp and Tremble is seen as extra of a blocker, so on the very worst, Thomas might settle in because the No. 2.
“Dan Arnold clearly brings a receiving menace to us, Tommy [Tremble], we’re excited to see what he can do,” Rhule stated. “So for me, it is exhausting to say precisely what we’ll see till we get into pads however I believe we’ve got a bunch that may get open, that may catch the soccer, that may additionally block. Clearly, we might like them to be just a little extra of a presence within the passing sport than it was final yr particularly after shedding Curtis [Samuel]. So hopefully somebody will help over the center of the sector, that may be nice.”
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