Kansas City Chiefs free safety Juan Thornhill

Kansas City Chiefs: Juan Thornhill expected to return by training camp

  • Juan Thornhill
  • Kansas City Chiefs
  • nfl free agency
By Mike Brez March 15, 2020 0 Comment
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After losing their star rookie safety Juan Thornhill to a torn ACL at the end of the 2019 season, the Kansas City Chiefs get good news about his recovery.

The Kansas City Chiefs are set to have an interesting offseason in 2020. With free agency starting this week, there has been little news coming out of Arrowhead Stadium. Questions regarding what the team will do with 19 of their players hitting the open market. Defensive tackle Chris Jones was supposed to be a free agent until the Chiefs made an announcement declaring they were expecting to franchise tag the star pass rusher. Jones has been optimistic surrounding the situation, but a tweet that came out recently has made Chiefs fans nervous that he might not return in 2020.

Going into free agency last season, Kansas City desperately needed an overhaul on defense. Most of all, the Chiefs needed new contributors in the secondary. General manager Brett Veach signed strong safety Tyrann Mathieu to a three-year deal. He doubled down by drafting free safety Juan Thornhill in the second round. The duo became one of the top safety tandems in the NFL last year on their way to a Super Bowl Championship. Unfortunately, Thornhill would not get to take part in the Super Bowl.

Juan Thornhill suffered a torn ACL in the Week 17 matchup against the Los Angeles Chargers. Losing their talented rookie that surveyed the back end of the defense was a massive blow heading into the postseason. Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo was able to adjust his gameplan to make up for the missing piece. Daniel Sorensen and Kendall Fuller spent most of the snaps at safety in place of the rookie star.

Juan Thornhill expected to return before 2020 regular-season opener

It looks as if the Chiefs will not have to worry about who will be starting at free safety come Week 1 of 2020. Thornhill told the Kansas City Star that team doctors expect him to return in time for the Chiefs training camp in August. Head coach Andy Reid is very cautious when bringing back players and will likely have Thornhill slowly brought back. He mentioned that he finally got his full range of motion back.

While Thornhill’s rookie season started with some rookie mistakes, he quickly shaped into a vital piece in the Chiefs secondary. Starting all 16 games, Thornhill finished his rookie season, collecting 57 tackles, three interceptions (one returned for a touchdown), and five pass breakups. His running mate Tyrann Mathieu earned AFC Defensive Player of the Month in December after Spagnuolo started to play him closer to the line of scrimmage. It demonstrated the trust Spagnuolo had built in his rookie safety. Mathieu would also go on to make his first All-Pro appearance in 2019.

With the good news from team doctors, Thornhill and Mathieu will be the starting safeties to begin the 2020 season. Veach can then focus his attention on other needs this offseason. It’s been a while since the Chiefs have had a dynamic duo at the back end of the defense. The two covered up weaknesses throughout the defense with their versatility. If Thornhill returns in 2020 without any pause, it’s a massive weight lifted off our shoulders.

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