The biggest early season surprises for the Kansas City Chiefs

KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI - OCTOBER 05: Rashad Fenton #27 of the Kansas City Chiefs makes an interception ahead of Damiere Byrd #10 of the New England Patriots during the fourth quarter at Arrowhead Stadium on October 05, 2020 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI - OCTOBER 05: Rashad Fenton #27 of the Kansas City Chiefs makes an interception ahead of Damiere Byrd #10 of the New England Patriots during the fourth quarter at Arrowhead Stadium on October 05, 2020 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) /
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Juan Thornhill
Juan Thornhill, Kansas City Chiefs (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images) /

Juan Thornhill’s return

This one comes with a bit of a give and take. Juan Thornhill returned to the football field 240 days after his knee surgery. The Virginia product suffered a torn ACL in the final game of his sparkling rookie season, and though there was speculation as to whether he would be ready for the Chiefs’ Week 1 match against the Houston Texans, he recovered well and was able to get himself prepared to play.

Thornhill took about 2/3 of the snaps against Houston, and since then has missed a total of just three snaps in the last three games. The Chiefs’ free safety hasn’t shown the same caliber of range that he displayed in 2019, and that can be credited not only to his rehab from surgery, but also the rust from missing out on some vital reps in preseason. While his closing speed does leave something to be desired, he did grab his first interception of 2020 off Brian Hoyer in Week 4.

Thornhill is also being utilized in a much more versatile role this season. While he spent much of 2019 in centerfield, he’s been used in the box and in the slot for about 50% of his snaps in 2020. The snap counts are the big takeaway here. ACL rehab has been cut in half from where it was 20 years ago, and the Chiefs are reaping the rewards with their 2019 second rounder.

As the season continues on, we expect Thornhill’s production to trend upward as he holds things down the way he did in his rookie year.