On Tuesday, coach Mark Dantonio said he doesn't plan to hold out Thomas for a medical redshirt.
"If LT is what I think he is, I don't think he'll make it six years," he said. "I think he will have graduated and be ready to go play at the next level, so my plan is to play LT."
Thomas missed summer and fall conditioning and practices with a back injury. Dantonio said that has hindered Thomas' return.
"When you miss August and you miss most of September, you missed a lot of the grind," Dantonio said. "It's a physical game inside there. There are 300 pound people pushing on each other and snapping on each other. So that's part of the football game. We've got to get him some live reps. I think we've got to get him some live reps this week and we've got to see him come on.
"There is no question he should be a valuable part of the football team. At the end of the day, that's hit deal and he has to show it in practice."
Defensive line coach Ron Burton said part of the situation with Thomas is figuring out where he fits best with the team's weaknesses, but he is showing he can play in practice.
"He will get his opportunity," Burton said, "but we have guys who are further along than he is right now that have played in preseason camp and have gone though some fires and understand exactly what we're looking for and that understand the speed of the game is constant. It's repetition. When it's time, he'll be on the field."