FOXBORO, Mass. — It took 11 months, but the New England Patriots finally got Kenbrell Thompkins on their practice squad.
The Patriots cut Thompkins last October with the intention of slipping him to the scout team, but the Oakland Raiders interfered with those plans by claiming the 6-foot-1, 195-pound receiver.
The Raiders cut Thompkins last week, he went unclaimed and the Patriots scooped him up Sunday afternoon. Now that Thompkins is on the practice squad, he might not be there for long.
“Well I think he’s a quality practice squad player,” Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said Monday. “I mean, he was a roster player for us. He was a roster player for Oakland. So, to have that level of player on our roster, but not on our roster, it’s good. It gives us a quality depth player there. We had that same player basically on our team, but as a roster spot.
“We’ll see how long it takes, but it shouldn’t be too long from a relearning standpoint. He’s a good learner, but to just get back in to what we’re doing and all that, to be able to compete for playing time based on where he was here before. And it looks like, based on a short look yesterday, it looks like he still has good skills to contribute. He’s got the experience to play in the slot, which he did more in Oakland than he did here. He’s kind of developed some versatility, so we’ll see how it goes. But I think we’re happy to have him and a player of his caliber in that position.”
That Belichick is talking about Thompkins competing for playing time while on the practice squad is a good sign for the third-year pro. The Patriots have just five wide receivers on their roster, one of whom is Matthew Slater, a primary special-teamer. Brandon LaFell began the year on PUP/reserve, leaving Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, Aaron Dobson and Chris Harper to compete for catches.
Thompkins and Dobson both were rookies for the Patriots in 2013, fighting for a starting role. Thompkins started eight games, catching 32 passes for 466 yards with four touchdowns, while Dobson started nine games, catching 37 passes for 519 yards with four touchdowns.
Dobson and Thompkins could be right back where they started in the NFL, competing for one starting spot opposite Edelman and Amendola.
Thumbnail photo via Jeremy Brevard/USA TODAY Sports Images
Thumbnail photo via Nov 18, 2013; Charlotte, NC, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins (85) runs after catching a pass during the fourth quarter against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium. The Panthers defeated the Patriots 24-20. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports