ARLINGTON, Texas – As a former running back, Joe Thomas knows a thing or two about scoring touchdowns.
But that was a long time ago – 10 years or more, back in high school. And in the chaotic moments following a blocked punt, it can be a little tougher than it looks.
"As soon as I blocked it, I looked and I saw it," Thomas said. "I could've did a better job on scooping it, I got kind of sloppy."
In this loaded Cowboys linebacker unit that includes the Wolf Hunter, the Swipe and the General, Thomas tends to get lost in the shuffle. But if anyone doubted his contributions, he served a nice reminder on Saturday night.
Thomas set the tone for an eventual blowout in the first quarter when he raced around left end and cleanly blocked a punt by Trevor Daniel.
And while he might not have fielded the block cleanly, he's a savvy enough veteran to make up for it. Hustling against Daniel and Houston safety Jahleel Addae, Thomas eventually found the ball in the end zone, where he covered it for a 14-0 lead.
"I think I was a little slick with it," he said. "I kicked it toward the end zone and I was able to scoop it."
Thomas said his last touchdown before Saturday came during his senior year in college, when he scored on a pick-six. He even came agonizingly close to another one, as he missed one by mere inches.
"Could have been two tonight," he said with a laugh.
All in all, it was a nice reminder of what Thomas can do, as he figures to be an important piece of depth in the Cowboys' linebacker corps. The headlines will belong to Jaylon Smith, Leighton Vander Esch and Sean Lee – and rightfully so. But in Thomas, the Cowboys have a versatile veteran utility man, and he reaffirmed that fact on Saturday.
"He's got a very good feel for playing the game," said Cowboys coach Jason Garrett. "He can play all three linebacker spots for us and is a very good special teams player. He's a real pro."