A depleted Indianapolis Colts secondary received quite a jolt from newcomer Josh Thomas on Sunday.
Actually, Tennessee Titans tight end Delanie Walker absorbed the jolt from Thomas, whose timely hit caused a pass to be deflected to Colts safety Dwight Lowery, who returned the interception 69 yards for a touchdown. It was a notable way for Thomas, signed just five days earlier, to make a favorable initial impression on his fifth NFL team in as many seasons.
In January, Thomas was thinking about life without football when he opened a real estate business. He was among the Minnesota Vikings' final preseason roster cuts.
But the Colts' top four cornerbacks have suffered injuries. Pro Bowl cover guy Vontae Davis was able to return from a concussion for Sunday's 35-33 road win in Nashville, Tenn., but Darius Butler (hip), Greg Toler (neck) and rookie D'Joun Smith (knee) were sidelined. That created an opportunity for Thomas, who made the most of it in his 45th career NFL game.
"I just knew that I had to strike him because he's a bigger guy," Thomas said Monday of the hit on Walker. "So it was kind of one of those old-school sayings, 'Don't be the nail. Be the hammer.'"
He didn't realize Lowery had caught the deflection until a partisan Titans crowd groaned.
"It was kind of a split-second after the contact, so I knew the roar wasn't because of the hit," Thomas said. "I'm like, 'I know something good happened.' It was a good moment, for sure, for sure."
Lowery's touchdown gave the Colts a 14-0 lead in the second quarter.
Thomas, 26, finished the game with three tackles and two passes defended.
Initially drafted in the fifth round by Dallas in 2011, he was cut at the end of that training camp but picked up by Carolina, where Thomas played 38 games including 10 starts in his first three seasons. The college standout at Buffalo University had brief stays with Seattle (three games), the New York Jets (one game) and Detroit (one game) last season.
"It goes like this sometimes, you know?" he said. "This league is challenging and it can bring the best out of you. (Sunday) was about simplifying things. (Last) week was really accelerated. I came in here and simplified it in the aspect of it's just football, I've been playing it since I was 8 years old."
He realizes the future is uncertain. Players come and go each week. The Colts tinkered with the secondary Tuesday by signing cornerback Shaun Prater and waiving cornerback Eric Patterson, who has been signed to the active roster twice, cut three times and also added to the practice squad.
"Use it as a parallel to life," Thomas said. "You know you've got to live in the now moment. You can't live in the past or the future. As of now, I'm just taking advantage of the oppourtunities here. Just like the NFL can be a roller coaster, life can be a roller coaster, so you want to take that same approach."
Phillip B. Wilson also can be found on Facebook and Google+.