DT Khyri Thornton continues to impress

Posted Aug 16, 2016

Defensive tackle Khyri Thornton continues to impress with his strength and toughness in practice and the preseason opener.

Khyri Thornton played 20 snaps on defense for the Lions in their preseason opener in Pittsburgh last week, but it was the third play of the first Steelers possession of the second quarter where Thornton made his presence felt the most.

Steelers running back Daryl Richardson tried to take a shotgun handoff up the middle and found Thornton waiting for him. Thornton had already tossed aside guard B.J. Finney. He then grabbed Richardson, bear hugged him and went all WWE taking him to the ground via a suplex.

“It felt good,” Thornton said with a smile after practice Monday. “Just another play. Trying to do something to open some eyes.”

Thornton opened some eyes alright, by showing off the immense strength he plays the game with. It's that strength and toughness that has him shooting up the Lions defensive tackle depth chart.

Thornton lost 30 pounds between the end of OTAs and the start of training camp, which is a pretty significant body transformation. What has that kind of body makeover done for his game?

“I can move a lot better,” the 6-foot-3, 315-pound Thornton said. “I don’t tire out as fast. And I feel like I’m more explosive off the ball.”

He originally joined Detroit in the middle of last season and finished with a modest five tackles in six games.

He’s been taking second-team reps behind starters Haloti Ngata and Tyrunn Walker for most of the last two weeks as he continues to make plays in practice.

The defensive tackle rotation is far from being set in stone, but Thornton has been one of the under-the-radar bright spots for the Lions defense so far in camp.

“I can tell you this, he’s a powerful man,” head coach Jim Caldwell said. “He’s been a load. He’s been impressive. He was impressive this spring. He’s impressive once we got pads on.

“He’s really been playing well. He came in the middle of the year (last year), didn’t quite have a real good sense of the system, learned adapted, in really good physical condition.”