GLENDALE — The Arizona Cardinals have signed Mike Thomas, a day after the former University of Arizona standout was released by the Detroit Lions.
Thomas joins a team searching for a No. 4 receiver behind the top three of Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd and Andre Roberts.
The 5-foot-8 Thomas has 176 receptions for 1,796 yards in 61 NFL games since being drafted in the fourth round by Jacksonville in 2009. He led the Jaguars in receptions in 2010 and 2011. He was traded to the Lions after seven games last season.
Thomas still holds the University of Arizona and Pac-12 record for receptions at 259.
None of the other top competitors for the Cardinals' fourth receiver spot has any NFL game experience.
Thomas took an early morning flight from Michigan and arrived in time to take part in the team's practice, making an over-the-shoulder catch on a deep pass from backup quarterback Drew Stanton.
After practice, Thomas said he was so happy to return to the state where he had so much success as a college player.
"It's pretty amazing," he said. "I just thank God for that. It's awesome to be back. When I got here, I just felt so much better, just with the sunny skies. It's a clear vision again to come out here and be here. It's a good feeling."
Thomas said he was the odd man out with the Lions.
"When I got there last year they had a lot of guys that were injured," he said. "Now everybody's kind of back healthy. It just really wasn't working out in the numbers game and I guess me being a fit with what they wanted to do out there in Detroit, so here I am."
After his early success with Jacksonville, Thomas said, "It's more than been tough."
"But I just look at it as I guess a lot of great athletes go through ups and downs in their career," he said. " I think it's all about what you do with it, learn from your mistakes and move forward."
Thomas said he had several teams interested in him but chose Arizona.
"I just felt like it would be the best fit for me and I guess my skill set," he said. "Obviously, I was wanted a little bit as well. It just worked out that I could be here and I'm thankful and grateful."
Thomas said he didn't know much about the receiver situation with the Cardinals, leaving that up to his agent.
"I'm just looking for the opportunity to come in and play," he said, "and just getting back to having fun."
He said he wants to show the coaches "that I'm a reliable guy, I'm a baller. I love to play football. This is my passion."