It's been an interesting preseason for many Kansas City Chiefs players, but none have had a more up-and-down past few weeks than safety Juan Thornhill.
From declaring himself fully healthy near the end of July to spending time with the backups in practice in August, it's been a wild ride for the Chiefs' third-year defensive back. After returning from a torn ACL in 2020, he didn't resemble his old self until the season was nearly over. Thornhill's excellent play picked up as the regular season ended and the playoffs began, raising the bar for this year. A rough preseason Week 1 didn't help matters, but a fantastic interception on Friday caught the attention of coach Andy Reid.
"On defense: 22 (Thornhill), 95 (Chris Jones), 51 (Mike Danna), I mean ... these guys all really showed up," Reid said after the game. And then Mecole (Hardman) came up with a big catch and 22 comes up with a big interception. Those are things that will help us down the road."
Making a play at the end of the first half, Thornhill laid out for one of the more spectacular interceptions in recent memory. It couldn't have come at a better time for a player who many were beginning to question. Thornhill has been listed behind Daniel Sorensen on the depth chart and while it remains to be seen whether this week vaulted him up a spot, he feels good about where he's at in terms of feel for the game.
"Last season, I was going through a lot of things," Thornhill said. "But I've put last season behind me and I'm just trying to move forward and trying to make the plays that I used to make. Whenever coach calls me, whenever my teammates need me, I'm just out there to make that play."
Thornhill also touched on his increased snap count with the reserves against Arizona, noting that there are several players on the Chiefs roster who would happily take those snaps off his hands. He's grateful for any and every opportunity to get his legs back under him as he translates 100% health into 100% confidence. Reid believes the highlight-reel interception will be beneficial for Thornhill moving forward.
"This will help him," Reid said. "That was a big interception, that was beautiful. Laying out for that — that was a great deal. We need Juan. We need him in there feeling good about himself and playing. I think this will help him."
When Thornhill is at his best and playing without thinking about his each and every move, the Chiefs are a better team. Steve Spagnuolo's defense relies heavily on All-Pro Tyrann Mathieu, and there's been hope that Thornhill could combine with him to form one of the top safety duos in the entire NFL. With the 25-year-old looking and feeling better on the field, that dream could still become a reality in the near future.