Hustling downfield, shedding or eluding blocks and delivering form tackles in the open field, that’s what defines Texans cornerback and special teams ace Tavierre Thomas’ game.
One of the top special-teams contributors in the NFL, Thomas signed a two-year, $4 million contract this offseason after recording a team-high 10 special-teams tackles last season for the Cleveland Browns.
A former Division II All-American who walked on at Ferris State, Thomas had five special teams tackles in one game against the Dallas Cowboys last season. That marked the most in an NFL game since 2018 and the most by a Browns player since 2004.
Thomas played in every game last season for the Browns and started three games at corner.
“Yeah, so Tavierre, playing against him, he's proven over the last few years of his career the impact that he can have,” Texans special teams coordinator Frank Ross said. “Same story goes with everybody that walks in here on a daily basis. It's what can I prove today to be able to improve and then make that impact play, make that constant and the consistency across all of the phases that he would be a part of. So far, so good, yes.”
Thomas has had to work hard and overcome adversity to get to the NFL.
Although he was recruited by Iowa, Central Michigan and Eastern Michigan and other Division I schools, he wasn’t offered a scholarship due to a low ACT score despite graduating high school with a 3.8 grade point average. So, he enrolled in college on an academic scholarship.
Thomas was named A Division II All-American as a senior with 60 tackles, four interceptions and 18 passes defensed, finishing his career with 175 tackles, 14 interceptions and 35 passes defensed.
After being claimed off waivers by the Browns in 2019 after being cut by the Arizona Cardinals, the former undrafted free agent's career took off. He played in every game that year and had seven special teams tackles, recovered one fumble and returned 10 kickoffs for 204 yards. He also blocked a field goal against the San Francisco 49ers.
Last season, Thomas sacked elusive Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson. Thomas had 30 total tackles, two for losses, last season.
"You've got to have that want-to when you play on special teams," Thomas said last season. "All special teams is going harder than the person you're going against. You've got to want to outwork the guy in front of you. If you have that want-to and drive to do that, then nine times out of 10 you're going to be successful. That's what I've heard from all the guys who have been successful. It's all about the want-to, wanting it more than your opponent."
Aaron Wilson has covered the NFL for 20 years and has previously written for The Houston Chronicle and The Baltimore Sun. He’s on Twitter: @AaronWilson_NFL and Instagram: @aaronwilson7128