The past two seasons have been tough on Washington Commanders tight end Logan Thomas.
Back in 2021, Thomas spent more time off the field than on it. A hamstring injury against the Atlanta Falcons led to him being on Injured Reserve for six games. He returned in Week 12, but he was back on the sideline two weeks later, this time for good, with a torn ACL.
In 2022, Thomas made an impressive recovery to be ready for the season opener. He still missed three games with a calf injury. Thomas' numbers were sporadic with only brief moments reminiscent of his former self.
Thomas, who finished last season with 323 yards and a touchdown on 39 receptions, appeared to be fully healthy during the Commanders' offseason workout program, and he could be a big part of the offensive identity.
"It gives me a leg up compared to where I was last year," Thomas said. "Got a little bit of my explosiveness back. I'm able to launch a little better than I was. I'm excited just to be out here working with the guys getting better and learning a new offense."
It's been frustrating for Thomas and the Commanders that the tight end hasn't been on the field as much for the past two seasons, because they know how productive he can be. In his first year with the team, Thomas was tied for second in targets (110), second in yards (670), third in catches (72) and first in receiving touchdowns (6). Thirty-six of his receptions also resulted in first downs.
Although he didn't have much experience as a pass-catcher prior to joining Washington, it was clear that he was a mismatch for defenses. His size (6-foot-6, 250 pounds) made him too big for defensive backs to cover, and his experience as a quarterback gave him unique knowledge on how to find soft spots in coverage.
There have been moments when Thomas looked like the weapon he was three seasons ago. He had two touchdowns in the first three games of the 2021 season, and in 2022, he had 65 yards on five receptions against the Houston Texans.
The injuries Thomas dealt with made it difficult to be consistent with those kinds of performances. That's why he's thankful he doesn't have to deal with trying to get back in shape and be healthy this offseason.
"Just being able to go out there and make cuts that I wasn't exactly comfortable making last year and making them completely normal this year," Thomas said.
Thomas looked comfortable throughout the Commanders' OTAs and minicamp this offseason. He quickly became a favorite target of Sam Howell particularly in the red zone because of his size and reliable hands.
But Thomas was dependable in other spots on the field as well. He was often either Howell's first or second target, especially during blitz drills when the quarterback needed to get the ball out quickly. He also showed a knack for making catches in traffic, which he put on display during two-minute drills with a grab over Khaleke Hudson.
Perhaps his best grab of the offseason, however, was one made near the middle of the field with Benjamin St-Juste trying to knock the ball loose.
Thomas is the clear leader for a young tight end group that was used heavily during the offseason. Fans should expect more of that with Eric Bieniemy running the offense.
"It's always been a tight end friendly offense," Bieniemy said. "Those guys, they show up, they're making plays and the quarterbacks have been doing a great job of locating them in the passing game."
Bieniemy is used to having a tight end be a key piece of the offense, as Travis Kelce has routinely been one of the league's best pass-catchers. Thomas likely won't put up numbers similar to Kelce this season, but he can still have a positive impact on the unit if he's close to the numbers he had in 2020.
Based on how much he was used during OTAs, the Commanders are expecting that.