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Thomas not in it for the rebuild

Chiefs believe Thomas can be positive influence on young players
The Kansas City Star
Until the point he agreed to his new Chiefs contract, linebacker Zach Thomas wondered the same thing you’re still trying to figure out: What’s he doing in the middle of Kansas City’s rebuilding project?

Thomas, who will be 36 by the time the regular season begins, isn’t some young guy looking for a shot or even an older one in need of a final proving ground. A seven-time Pro Bowler, Thomas could have retired with a secure legacy as one of the top linebackers of his era.

His one-year stop in Dallas after 12 seasons with the Dolphins made sense for a guy of his accomplishments. Thomas, a Texas native, had done everything but play for a championship and the Cowboys had the look of a Super Bowl contender.

They wound up missing the playoffs altogether, which set Thomas to thinking as he embarked on the Kansas City portion of his career.

“Nothing is guaranteed from year to year,” he said. “You look at Dallas, where I was last year. We were guaranteed to make the Super Bowl and we didn’t even make the playoffs. So nothing is guaranteed and teams change from year to year.

“I have high expectations for this team. I’m excited to come out here and try to make a difference. I’m not coming to be a coach or help this team try to rebuild. I’m not here for that.”

Coach Todd Haley had to do a sales job on Thomas first before he came around to that line of thinking.

“I was a little skeptical coming in at first, to be honest,” Thomas said. “Once I came in and talked to (Haley) … he was straight to the point. He wanted to change the mind-set of the players. He really grabbed me right there. Once he gets this team’s mind-set changed . . .

“Everything has changed here. It all starts at the top, and I’d like to be there for that transition, that change, kind of like Miami did last year. It can be done.”

For their part, the Chiefs needed a veteran linebacker as they attempt to rebuild their defense. Thomas has played middle linebacker in the 4-3 and inside in the 3-4, so there’s a place for him whatever the Chiefs do defensively.

“I really don’t know what defense they’re putting in here,” he said. “But whatever direction they want to go is fine with me. I can play in the 3-4 or the 4-3. I like them both. I had some of my best years in the 3-4.”

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