CHARLOTTE — In wide receiver Devin Thomas’ mind getting waived by the Washington Redskins had nothing to do with his performance on the football field and everything to do with his hobbies off of it.
Thomas was cut earlier this week by the Redskins after taking up permanent residence in new Redskins coach Mike Shanahan’s doghouse.
He was claimed off waivers Monday by the Carolina Panthers and now the third-year pro hopes to reignite his flailing three-year NFL career in an offense that has struggled in the passing game.
“You can look at it (getting waived) and get mad, but I look at it more as motivation,” said Thomas, a second round pick in 2008 out of Michigan State.
“It’s in the past. I’m just so happy to help this team. Everybody has a positive attitude around here even though (the record) is 0-5.”
Thomas rarely saw action on offense this year for the Redskins after catching 40 passes in his first two seasons under former coach Jim Zorn.
He claims that’s because Shanahan got irritated with his off-field activities this past offseason.
Thomas co-starred in a steamy music video with Fantasia in her song “Bittersweet” and later did some modeling for the now defunct Vibe magazine and a few other publications.
After Washington’s win over Green Bay this past Sunday, Shanahan said Thomas is “going to have to commit to being a pro.”
Then he cut him.
“I’ll take that to heart, and now that I have a second chance, I’ll make sure I do everything professionally,” Thomas said.
Thomas said he’s promised general manager Marty Hurney the off-field things won’t be a distraction.
“I’m focusing on football,” Thomas said. “All that stuff can come later in life. I’m looking to just become a great receiver.”
There was also another incident earlier this year that hurt Thomas’ image.
Former teammate Brandon Banks snapped a picture of Thomas sleeping during what appears to be a team meeting and then posted it on Twitter. Thomas argues that the photo was taken in-between meetings and he just closed to eyes to rest for a few minutes to get some rest.
Thomas said Banks was ordered to apologize to him and the organization.
“I tried to close my eyes for a second and I didn’t know my fellow receiver would take a picture like that which is a no-no,” Thomas said. “You never have a phone in the meeting and then he put it on Twitter. He was reprimanded for it. He had to apologize to the team and for me. That’s how it was. Once it leaked out the media ran with it.”
When asked if felt Banks, a rookie, was trying to torpedo him, Thomas said, “I hope not. I hung out with the guy, and he seemed like a quality guy. I hope that wasn’t the case to lowball me just to move up.”
Thomas has plenty of supporters in this organization, including his former college rival Jimmy Clausen. Thomas was a part of a Michigan State team that defeated Clausen’s Notre Dame Fighting Irish 31-14 in 2007.
“The first time I talked to him, I told him to not hold a grudge against me because I went to Notre Dame,” joked Clausen. “He’s a good receiver. He definitely has good hands.
“He seems like a real good guy and a real good player to help this organization.”
The pair stayed after practice Wednesday to work together.
“I was just trying to get in rhythm with how he throws it,” Thomas said.
Thomas hopes he can help a passing offense that ranks 31st in the league and last in scoring.
“They told me I could come in here and make a difference, and that’s my mentality,” Thomas said. “I’m coming in here doing the best I can to learn the offense and help out as much as possible. This is my chance and now I’m doing my best to learn the playbook so I can get out there.”