Why isn’t Juan Thornhill playing more?
Of all the defenders who played against the Baltimore Ravens, no single player played less snaps than Juan Thornhill. Given that he’s the youngest of the starting trio and showed off a real dynamism in the team’s opening win over the Cleveland Browns, we’re perplexed as to why he played so little.
If you want to flip this question on its head, we’re also wondering why Dan Sorensen is playing so many reps. There’s a time and a place for Dirty Dan, to be sure, and he comes up big when tasked with goals within his range. The problem is that Sorensen’s presence on the field for 100 percent of all defensive snaps meant there were a lot of missed tackles and mismatches exploited.
Thornhill is a complex character for the Chiefs defense at this point, a player who looked very promising during his rookie campaign—perhaps even on the verge of becoming a Pro Bowl-level player. Then came a devastating injury that robbed him of the postseason and required a long recovery for his first full NFL offseason. From there, he never quite looked healthy for much of the 2020 campaign until late in the year when he seemed to be back to form.
Even this summer, Thornhill was even playing well into preseason games with player vying for fringe roster spots, which led us to wonder why he was taking reps at that level. Then in Week 1, it felt like old times again. Against the Ravens, however, the questions were right back in our face again.
There’s a lack of consistency in the opportunities afforded for Thornhill and we can’t explain it. And if there’s a health reason, then Thornhill should be appearing on the team’s injury report. Something is awry without any clear reasoning—although we’d certainly love to hear it.