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Thomas Starts In His First Preseason Game

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Devin Thomas made his NFL preseason debut on Saturday night, earning a start as the Redskins took on the New York Jets at the Meadowlands.

Thomas was not initially on the field for the Redskins' first offensive series, but once the game clock started he raced to the huddle and replaced Mike Sellers.

The Redskins opened with a three wide receiver set, with Santana Moss, James Thrash and Thomas. (Antwaan Randle El sat out the game to rest a hamstring injury.)

Thomas did not catch a pass in the game, but he did return two kickoffs for a 23-yard average.

Thomas had one ball thrown his way in the game. He ran a deep route, but the pass--from Todd Collins--was incomplete.

He was also called for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on a special teams play in the first quarter.

"I thought Devin started out really fast," head coach Jim Zorn said after the game. "We tried to limit him going in and out. He had to play on a a lot of special teams.

"He just showed he was a young player in his first game. He'll have a tremendous amount of improvement this week just from the fact that he played this week."

Said Thomas: "It felt good to be out there. I'd give myself a C-plus. I had to fight through fatigue. But I continued to fight through that and I'm looking forward to game two."

Thomas, a 6-2, 220-pound wide receiver, had a long wait to make his NFL debut.

He suffered a hamstring injury on July 24 during training camp. He has missed both of the Redskins' preseason games.

Thomas returned to practice last Monday.

Thomas was the Redskins' top pick (No. 34 overall in the second round) in last April's NFL Draft.

Fellow rookie wide receiver Malcolm Kelly, the Redskins' third pick (No. 51 overall in the second round), remains sidelined with a knee injury.

During training camp, Zorn was concerned about the valuable playing time Thomas and Kelly were missing.

Before Saturday's game, Zorn said he wasn't going to put any added pressure on Thomas to perform well.

"I don't tell him he is behind the eight-ball or it is an all-or-nothing game," Zorn said. "What I do is I tell him that this is another opportunity for him to get better. We are all learning here and he is going to come out and show his athleticism.

"I am hoping he shows that he has studied, can line up, can be explosive off the line of scrimmage and contribute with his assignments using the techniques that we are trying to teach."

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