FOXBORO, Mass. — There’s a lot to talk about with the Patriots’ rookie wide receivers, and we may finally be seeing some separation in the competition.
Both Josh Boyce and Aaron Dobson spent time with what appeared to be the second-team offense on Saturday, working exclusively with Tim Tebow, while Kenbrell Thompkins worked with Tom Brady, Ryan Mallett and the first team. While Thompkins seems to have a leg up on the competition at this point, Boyce is the one making the biggest push for a starting spot.
Boyce looked like the second-best receiver on the field on Saturday, behind only Danny Amendola, who’s been nothing short of spectacular in camp so far. The rookie wideout caught every pass thrown in his direction, which is even more impressive considering Tebow was the one throwing them. He didn’t dazzle with any leaping catches in the end zone like Quentin Sims, who had two, or a pretty over-the-shoulder grab like Thompkins, but Boyce was just solid and precise in everything he did, as he has been for the majority of camp.
After missing the entire spring healing from a broken foot, Boyce began camp at a slight disadvantage and without any sort of first-hand experience in the offense. Nine days and eight practices later, Boyce has already caught up to the other receivers and even seems to be the most adept of the rookies. Thompkins has been the most consistent so far, developing a good connection with Brady, and Dobson has made the most highlight-worthy plays, but Boyce looks to be the best of the group.
Eight practices — only five in pads — is a small sample size to work with, so add as much salt as necessary. Boyce seems to be the clear standout of this rookie receiver group, though. He’s already more comfortable in the offense than Dobson, and he’s at least on par with Thompkins, even though Kenbrell is the one working with the first team.
Aside from Amendola, none of the receivers seems assured of a starting spot. All of the usual suspects have had their standout moments and days, but Boyce seems to be in the best position, at least right now, to be a starter come Week 1.
1. Devin McCourty — He shifted back to safety on Saturday and looked like he was right back at home. He intercepted a pass from Mallett and continued to frustrate and contain receivers over the top.
2. Jamie Collins — He made an athletic interception off a Ryan Mallett pass during the scrimmage. The play was called back due to pass interference on Steve Beauharnais, but Collins continues to have a nose for the football and to find ways to make plays.
3. Quentin Sims — A relative unknown at wide receiver, Sims had his best day in camp on Saturday, catching a pair of touchdowns from Tebow. He is still a longshot to make the roster, but this type of play will keep him around longer.
1. Kyle Arrington — He let Danny Amendola blow by him twice to start the scrimmage and then let Edelman do the same thing later in practice.
2. Ryan Mallett — Mallett threw a pair of interceptions and didn’t seem to be in sync with his receivers on the whole all day.
3. Aaron Dobson — He continues to struggle to get open off the line. Tebow barely looked his way at all on Saturday.
Photo via Twitter/@SteveB7SFG