McCluster, Thomas important chess pieces

September, 4, 2014
Sep 4
4:31
PM ET
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Tennessee Titans intend on Dexter McCluster being an unpredictable X factor for their offense. His old team, the Kansas City Chiefs, now feature a new unpredictable X factor in rookie receiver De'Anthony Thomas.

So Ken Whisenhunt and Andy Reid both have their chess pieces.

McCluster
McCluster
Thomas
"We’ve seen a lot of (Thomas) on the preseason tape, he’s all over the place," Whisenhunt said of Thomas. "He’s a guy you certainly have to be aware of. I think that’s what happens with a lot of teams in the NFL, they have guys you have to be aware of. I hope that there are some guys on our team that they have to be aware of.

"When you have a player like that, you try to put him in multiple spots, try to create matchups. (Thomas) is an explosive player who can do that."

Offensive coaches seek those favorable matchups, and moving a quick guy to the backfield and different receiver spots at different times gives them a chance to create them. If they don't favor McCluster or Thomas, perhaps their presence creates something in favor of one of their team’s other skill-position players.

McCluster has fully embraced the Swiss Army knife role, and said he likes it. He sees Thomas, a fourth-rounder out of Oregaon, in a role similar to what he did for the Chiefs.

"But there is only one me and only one him," McCluster said. "What we have to do is do our best at being who we are."

McCluster wears No. 22 and said he likes it when he hears a defense referring to him.

"It’s always a cool spot," he said. "Especially when you come into the game and you hear your name being called or hear your number being called: 'Hey, 22 is over here' or 'Hey, such and such is over there.' It’s fun."

I asked ESPN.com's NFL scout, Matt Williamson, to compare and contrast McCluster and Thomas.

"Similar for sure, but I think Thomas is more explosive, faster in a straight line and a smoother athlete, where I think McCluster is a bit more physical and a better candidate of the two for interior running," he said.

Paul Kuharsky | email

ESPN Tennessee Titans reporter

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