Essentially the first player in the AFL to take on the motion receiver right at the line of scrimmage nearly every down, Clevan Thomas plays a high-risk, high-reward brand of defense that has netted him 50 interceptions in less than 100 regular season games. Despite being undersized and not being quite as quick since an ACL injury in 2004, he’s been able to disrupt the timing of the league’s best offenses.
He will usually start matched up against the motion man, but in combination with Omarr Smith, where Thomas will jam the motion receiver, and if the receiver gets by, Thomas takes the flanker and lets Smith take the motion man. It’s a risky play where if the alignment is two receivers to one side and one to the other, the middle is relatively open and its up to Marquis Floyd and Jason Geathers to help out.
In the first matchup this year versus Philadelphia, San Jose dominated the first half by hitting Chris Jackson and Larry Brackins at the line and forcing D’Orazio’s timing to be off, allowing Marquis Floyd to swoop in for interceptions. In the second half hesitation motion and weak hitting allowed Jackson and Brackins to run roughshod over the HP Pavilion turf. The key to the game will most likely be whether the San Jose secondary of the first half of that game and the last six weeks shows up, or the secondary of the first half of the year and the second half of that game shows up. Clevan’s play was key in getting 7 stops against a high powered Grand Rapids offense, and the triumverate of Thomas, Floyd, and Smith seems to be peaking at the right time.