Thomas Says He's Happy for Chance to Re-Join Colts
INDIANAPOLIS – To Josh Thomas, the move made perfect sense.
Thomas, a fifth-year veteran defensive end who became an unrestricted free agent following this past season, spent his first four NFL seasons with the Colts. He was used to the team's scheme, accustomed to his role and comfortable with each.
So, when the Colts offered a chance to re-sign last week, he did so.
And he said he couldn't have been happier with the decision.
"Everything made sense to come back," Thomas said Tuesday as he prepared for the Colts' off-season conditioning program, which is scheduled to begin next week.
"I'm about to get married and my fiancé and I are looking forward to being here in Indy."
Thomas, who joined the Colts as a rookie free agent in 2004 from Syracuse University, developed into one of the team's top reserves in recent seasons, playing in 52 games the past four seasons and starting nine games.
He started seven of 15 games last season, moving into a starting position when three-time Pro Bowl selection Dwight Freeney sustained a season-ending injury against the San Diego Chargers on November 11.
"Obviously being familiar with the scheme, with all the coaches, with how you fit into the scheme – there's not going to be any surprises," Thomas said. "It's just about being comfortable and when you're comfortable, you play better. I'm not going to have to work on learning a new playbook or any of that.
"I just have to tighten up my game a little bit. I think that's why we're excited to come back here, because it wasn't going to be any type of transition."
Thomas, who started the San Diego regular-season game in place of left defensive end Robert Mathis, started in place of Freeney at right end for two games, moved back to left end for three games, then returned to the right side for the Colts' playoff loss to San Diego.
Until this season, he played mostly as a reserve, starting two games in 2005, but playing extensively on a defensive line that routinely rotates players.
"Our philosophy as a D-line is to be as fresh as possible all the way until the end of the game," Thomas said. "That enables me to get in there for 30 plays a game, so that's what you do. That's the role. When you accept that role and try to play your best inside that role, that's when good things happen. You can call me a backup, a starter, it doesn't matter.
"When you're out there playing, you're still getting those same reps."
Thomas in 2007 registered a career-high 55 tackles, 33 solos, with a sack, three passes defensed and a forced fumble. He finished the season with 14 quarterback pressures, third on the team behind Mathis (17) and Freeney (19).
In four seasons, he has 137 tackles, 92 solos, with six sacks, three passes defensed, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.
Thomas was one of six Colts players to become unrestricted free agents at the start of the league year on February 29. The others were defensive tackle Dan Klecko, offensive guard Jake Scott, linebacker Rocky Boiman, wide receiver Aaron Moorehead and tight end Mike Seidman.
Scott signed as a free agent with the Tennessee Titans on March 10, and Klecko signed with the Philadelphia Eagles as a fullback on March 17. Boiman signed with the Eagles and the team also released defensive tackle Anthony "Booger" McFarland and linebacker Rob Morris shortly before the start of the league year.
"The way they (the Colts) work, is they have the guys they want and it's nice to kind of be a part of that group," Thomas said. "We kind of tested the free-agency market and we said, 'It makes the most sense to come back here with the Colts.' It was exciting to be able to work it out and be back here."