Prior to training camp, Khyri Thornton probably wouldn’t have made anyone’s roster predictions for the Detroit Lions. He probably wouldn’t have made roster predictions for any team. The former third-round pick out of Southern Mississippi failed to make anything resembling an impact with the Green Bay Packers and was cast off after his rookie season. He failed to latch onto the New England Patriots roster as well, before landing with the Detroit Lions depleted defensive line in 2015. From an expectations standpoint, this 26-year-old has faced more than his fair share of disappointment. 2016 looks a little different so far, as he’s catapulted himself into roster consideration by crushing everyone in his path.
Fun Fact: Khyri Thornton has lost 30 pounds ... since OTAs. https://t.co/2zWw5iqOmb— Kyle Meinke (@kmeinke) August 5, 2016
When Training Camp commenced, Thornton had quietly lost 30 pounds since OTAs several weeks earlier. It’s surprising when a player cuts that much weight in that short of a time, but what happened next was even more amazing. On a team with two established starters in Haloti Ngata and Tyrunn Walker, Khyri Thornton began to stand out. Rookie A’Shawn Robinson was coming along slowly while third-year rotational lineman Caraun Reid was struggling to build on his 2015 where he started 12 games. It was a perfect opportunity to inject himself into the conversation at defensive tackle, and the best way to do that was to have some fun at offensive linemen’s expense.
Khyri Thornton working with the first team offense alongside Reid. Ridley getting plenty of work out of the backfield.— Alex Reno (@alex_reno) August 4, 2016
When Ngata took some time off the field, Thornton came in to work with first team. He continued to impress in camp and, according to several reports, never lost a one-on-one battle with an offensive lineman. It isn’t commonplace, but this wouldn’t be the first instance of a player finding new life with a new team. Despite being a fairly deep position, Khyri Thornton has a unique opportunity to cause an impact and potentially push someone like Gabe Wright or even Caraun Reid off the Detroit Lions roster. If he continues to make an impact, it will be difficult to part ways with him. When folks talk about potentially trading a DT from this stable, it’s not only guys like Thornton they’re referring to, it’s referring to the guys he has made expendable.