Thomas looks for fresh start with Lions

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News
Brandon Thomas

Detroit — Brandon Thomas knew he was a long shot to make the San Francisco 49ers roster, so while he was disappointed to move on from the team that selected him in third round of the 2014 draft, he knew a trade to the Detroit Lions offered him a fresh start.

The Lions acquired the 6-foot-3, 317-pound lineman on Monday in exchange for wide receiver Jeremy Kerley, and started him at right guard in Thursday's exhibition game against the Bills.

“It was bittersweet,” Thomas said. “When they said I was traded, it was like, ‘Oh, man.’ But when I learned I was coming to Detroit, I researched it a little bit and I felt it was a great opportunity for me. I was excited coming out here. I just want to show them what I got. ”

Thomas certainly didn’t have long to make an impression. He was able to participate in just two practices with the team while cramming to learn a new playbook. His brief audition concluded with the exhibition finale against the Bills.

A two-time, All-ACC left tackle for Clemson, he’s worked as both a tackle and guard at the professional level. The Lions started working him at right guard, but he’s confident in his ability to play multiple positions.

Thomas’ career has gotten off to a rocky start. It goes back to an ACL tear he suffered during a pre-draft workout, which cost him his rookie season. In his second year, he was unable to crack the 49ers lineup and has yet to play a snap in a regular-season game.

“I know I have the ability to play in the league,” Thomas said. “I just have to show it. My mind-set is just go out there and show my abilities and hopefully make the team.”

The Lions already have some young depth at guard with fifth-round draft pick Joe Dahl expected to be a top reserve behind starters Laken Tomlinson and Larry Warford entering the season. If Thomas is unable to crack the 53-man roster, he could be a good fit for the practice squad.