The Kansas City Chiefs play their first preseason game tonight at 7 p.m. against the Cincinnati Bengals at Arrowhead Stadium.
A lot of fans have heard rookie safety Juan Thornhill’s name throughout training camp. Thornhill, one of the Chiefs’ second-round draft picks, has gotten consistent reps throughout camp and that’s what Chiefs head coach Andy Reid said he needs to get if he wants to be in the Chiefs’ starting defensive rotation.
“Right now, he’s getting a ton of (reps),” Reid said. “Experience will be the thing. He’s a young guy.”
For defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, the rookie is someone he wants to see in true action under pressure.
“Certainly, we want to see Juan Thornhill in there and Khalen (Saunders), the guys that we drafted,” Spagnuolo said.
The rookie is listed as the No. 2 free safety on the first unofficial depth chart behind six-year veteran Daniel Sorensen.
Thornhill said early in training camp he has learned a lot from fellow safety Tyrann Mathieu.
“If I have a question, I can go up to him and ask him anything and he’ll definitely take me under his arm and try to work me through whatever I don’t understand,” Thornhill said early on in camp.
In college, Thornhill played corner and safety. He had six interceptions and 98 tackles in his final season with the University of Virginia.
“So, we got to see him play corner and safety in college — he did a little bit of each,” Reid said. “The one consistency was that he made plays at both spots. He’s doing that out here. Early on, he was getting his hands on the ball, but he wasn’t getting the picks. Now he’s making the picks.”
Thornhill has picked off Mahomes and the other quarterbacks several times since the start of training camp.
Reid said there’s a chance that Thornhill could be seen on the field in a three safety play alongside Mathieu and Sorensen.
Thornhill will get his opportunity to play and prove himself today, and that game could help or hurt the rookie’s chance for making an immediate impact.