- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 1, 2014

MINNEAPOLIS — Phillip Thomas, who had spent the first eight weeks of the season on the Washington Redskins‘ practice squad, was signed to the team’s 53-man roster on Saturday after it waived defensive end Clifton Geathers.

Thomas, a fourth-round pick in 2013, has been beset by injuries since being drafted out of Fresno State, and the team had him on its practice squad in an attempt to make sure he could remain healthy before playing in a game.

He sustained a Lisfranc sprain in his left foot in the preseason opener in 2013 that landed him on injured reserve and forced him to miss all of his rookie season, then strained one of his hamstrings this past preseason and again experienced soreness in his left foot after the Redskins‘ preseason game against Baltimore on Aug. 23.

The Redskins had viewed Thomas as a potential long-term starter at strong safety after drafting him, but the injuries significantly derailed those plans. Instead, he’ll likely make his debut Sunday, when Washington plays the Minnesota Vikings, as a special teams player.

“We’re going to try to get Phillip up here sooner than later,” coach Jay Gruden said Wednesday. “He’s making strides. You know, after he hurt his foot, he just wasn’t playing like the Phillip we know he can play like, so it’s important to get him in practice and he’s done a good job in practice, and hopefully, we’ll get him up.”

The 6-foot, 223-pound Thomas had eight interceptions as a senior — the most in the Football Bowl Subdivision that season. His penchant for making plays on the ball, as well as being a hard-nosed tackler, was what endeared him to the Redskins that season.

Geathers, signed as a free agent in March, played in six games for the Redskins and had five tackles, but he was inactive for the last two games after Stephen Bowen was activated from the physically-unable-to-perform list.

Because Sunday’s game against the Vikings is the first following the trade deadline, Geathers, despite being in his fifth season, will be subject to the waivers process.

Following Thomas‘ signing, the Redskins have two openings on their practice squad. The vacancy created when the team signed strong safety Akeem Davis off the practice squad prior to the overtime victory at Dallas on Monday remained all week, with the team opting to have just nine players on the practice squad over three days of practice.

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