Opinion

Juan Thornhill went back to practice, should he have stayed on the PUP list longer?

Chiefs free safety Juan Thornhill went back to practice this week for the first time since he tore an anterior cruciate ligament in the game against the Chargers in Week 17 last December. Thornhill spent almost three weeks on the active/physically unable to perform list. However, he recently passed his physical, and the Chiefs re-activated him from PUP.

Thornhill is coming off a very good rookie season playing 1,011 defensive snaps and three interceptions including one for a touchdown. His season unfortunately ended on a negative note with his injury.

Could they have waited a little bit more before putting him back in the mix?

“It’s good to have Thornhill back,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said, via Herbie Teope of the Kansas City Star. “He was limited at the beginning of the week, but he’ll keep ramping up. We made sure he had a couple of good workouts prior to activating him, so we think that’s a plus.”

During his time on the PUP list though, Juan Thornhill was allowed to go to the Chiefs’ meetings and work with the training staff at the Chiefs facilities, so he was not completely out of the picture.

The team had the opportunity to keep him on the PUP list until the end of the training camp and activate him right before the end. This would have allowed them to avoid the transfer of Thornhill to the reserve PUP list for the regular season, which would have blocked him for a six week period. They preferred activating him the soonest possible.

The benefit of placing a player on Reserve/PUP is that the player won’t count against the 53-man roster limit. Teams have then a six-week window (day after Week 6 to day after Week 11) during which the player can return to practice.

However with the Chiefs signing Tedric Thompson, who also plays as a deep safety, this gives Thornhill a little bit more time to fully recover from his injury and be ready for this season without rushing anything.

This is a very young player and he is just eight months short after a surgery on his knee ligament. Having multiple options to keep him healthy is very important as Juan Thornhill is one of the young players building the Chiefs dynasty.

Nevertheless, defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo who was one of the big reasons why the defense clicked so well last season. Last season the defense took some games to fully gel. Spagnuolo was concerned about the fact his defense would not play any preseason games, thus play against any other offenses other than the Chiefs offense before seeing live action September 10.

As soon as Thornhill will fully play with this teammates, the Chiefs defense will be able to train as a whole and become the elite defense they aspire to be.

“With the ACL injury, it’s very stressful if I’m being completely honest,” Thornhill said. “I was talking to Tyrann (Mathieu) about the two ACL surgeries that he had, and he said the main thing is to be positive. That was the first thing that I wanted to do was just be positive throughout this whole process. If you’re not positive, it’s going to slow down your healing process. I just wanted to stay positive and lift up my teammates as they were going through the playoffs. I didn’t want to be that guy who was a cancer in the locker room that they always heard from. I just wanted to be there and lift them up.”

Thornhill is a very positive player, and as his teammate Tyrann Mathieu just said in today’s press conference, Juan Thornhill looks very good. There is no doubt he is working hard to come back more motivated than ever to help run it back and defend the Chiefs Super Bowl title this season.

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