With his renewed outlook on being a vocal leader, Thomas is showing everyone that he is a more mature, composed player ready to take on the responsibility of being a leader. He's also ready to make an impact on the field this season. Thomas will be moved back and forth between the outside linebacker and defensive end. The number of snaps that Thomas should receive at either position will greatly depend on what defense the Ravens are playing in certain situations. If the Ravens stick with the 3-4 scheme, Thomas will line up as an outside linebacker playing over the right tackle. If the Ravens switch back to the 4-3 scheme, Thomas will play at defensive end on the right side.
Although the Ravens are likely to line up in a 3-4 defense at least 50% of the time, Thomas' ability to cover receivers as an outside linebacker will greatly influence the Ravens' decision on whether they ultimately stick with the 3-4 defense at all. Although Thomas struggled to acclimate himself to the outside linebacker position during the last two mini-camps, he'll still need some time to get adjusted to playing in open space.
The Ravens will stay patient though, because they know how much potential Thomas really has. Thomas is a physical freak, who has the speed to blow by opposing tackles, the strength to physically handle blocks, and the wingspan to make life hell for opposing quarterbacks trying to throw over him. With those attributes, the Ravens envision him as their own version of Jason Gildon from the Pittsburgh Steelers.
One thing is clear: Thomas is certainly a better player now, than he was when he came out of Southern Mississippi University two years ago. Thomas works harder than he did in college, is stronger, and is a more complete player who plays much better against the run than he did before being drafted. He also proved the skeptics wrong by being able to play on all four defensive downs in a number of games last year. With a new resolve to become one of the better defensive players in the league, Thomas certainly has the drive and talent to eventually reach his own expectations.