The whirlwind that was the past week for Miami Dolphins defensive back Michael Thomas continues today with the announcement that he has been named AFC Defensive Player of the Week. During the Dolphins' 24-20 win over the New England Patriots, Thomas recored three tackles, two passes defensed, and the win-securing interception.
Of course, there's more to Thomas' story this week than just a great performance on Sunday. Just six days prior to kickoff, Thomas had been a practice squad player for the San Francisco 49ers. He was someone the team wanted to keep, having given him a pay raise in November, just to try to entice him to stay with the 49ers' practice squad. But, things started to change on Monday.
Thomas slept in Monday morning, enjoying an off day for the 49ers. When he awoke, he had multiple missed calls from his agent on his cell phone, as well as a text message reading, "WAKE UP! There's a team trying to claim you, but if you don't get right back to them, they are going to move on." Thomas immediately called his agent, Christina Phillips, who connected him to Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland, who scheduled him for a 2:30pm flight to Miami, officially signing with the Dolphins on Tuesday.
During the week, Thomas worked with the Dolphins' scout team, running the Patriots' defense against Miami's offense. He never had a chance to work out with the Miami defensive players, but did learn the coverages, just not the signals. On Sunday, Thomas was active for the game, but was a longshot to actually play on defense. He's a safety sitting behind Reshad Jones and Chris Clemons, both of whom have taken nearly every defensive snap this year.
Then, things started changing. Miami starting cornerbacks Brent Grimes and Nolan Carroll were injured and had to leave the game. Thomas was sent into the contest, against Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, as a cornerback, a position he had not played since his freshman year in college. With less than a minute remaining in the game, and the Patriots driving down the field looking to once again win on a last second drive, Thomas broke up a pass in the end zone on first down, then intercepted the ball on fourth down, again in the end zone, when he broke off his coverage and simply made an amazing leaping grab.
Dolphins players swarmed to Thomas, who was laying on his back in the end zone, celebrating with the player who they had just met, and some admitted, they weren't sure of his name. Thomas broke down in tears on the sideline, overcome with the moment.
From 49ers practice squad to Dolphins scout team practices to reserve safety to cornerback facing Tom Brady to defensive hero of the game and now AFC Defensive Player of the Week. What an incredible story Michael Thomas has had this week.
Thomas joins fellow Dolphins defenders, defensive ends Cameron Wake and Olivier Vernon, as Miami players named AFC Defensive Players of the Week this season. Wake earned the honor in Week 9 and Vernon won the award in Week 13.