The loss of his line mate, who was lined up next to him for every practice and every game last year, will be hard to overcome. "He's such a team leader and motivator and we just have to find a way to replace him," said Thomas. He's still going to be with us (working with line coach Joe Bugel), though, and I'm glad of that." Still, though, there will have to be adjustments made on the field. "(We were) like bread and butter and somebody stole my butter so I've got to buy me some more."
Certainly, the presence of Joe Gibbs as the Redskins' new head coach has made the challenge a bit less daunting. "He's a highly motivating guy, straight forward. When he says something, you listen." When asked how Gibbs stacks up against the head coaches he played for previously, Thomas said, "Compared to Parcells, Al Groh. . . this guy is a completely level kind of guy, I never been coached by a guy who's basically honest about everything he says. He's straight forward and when he tells you something he means it."
And Bugel's influence is appreciated by Thomas as well. "We're doing everything completely different this year. There's no one like Buges, he's right there in the drills with us."
Certainly, it's a mutual-admiration society between Thomas and Bugel, who called Thomas "One of the best guards in football."
Of further help is the fact that Kenyatta Jones, the team's first option to replace Jansen, has enjoyed some success himself. "He's going to be fine. We've just got to get some repetitions together. He's been in it, he's been on a Super Bowl team," Thomas said. "With Jon going down he can basically start his career over and do well. . . He's got a chance to be a hero (by stepping in for Jansen).
Thomas missed the first preseason game and the fourth with ankle and rib injuries, but he's not concerned about his health. "I don't want a setback playing in a (preseason) game. I don't want it get worse than where I was with my ribs." He's aiming to be at 100% by September 12. "I'm working back in there, trying to get going, getting ready for this Tampa Bay game."
When a reporter asked Thomas about his newly-shaved head, he smiled and said, "New attitude—me against the world. You like that?"
The Redskins don't need Thomas to beat the world, just the guy in front of him as well as he has in the past. They will like that just fine.
Rich Tandler is the author of Gut Check, The Complete History of Coach Joe Gibbs Washington Redskins. For information on this book, go to
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