What Tyquan Thornton Is Looking To Prove In First Patriots Training Camp

'I mean, it's pretty obvious that I'm fast'


Jul 29, 2022

FOXBORO, Mass. — Tyquan Thornton knows people think of him as the fast guy. When you run the 40-yard dash in 4.28 seconds, that comes with the territory.

But the polarizing second-round pick wants to make sure speed isn’t the only asset he brings to the Patriots’ receiving corps.

Speaking after New England’s third training camp practice, the fastest receiver in this year’s draft said he’s focused on becoming a more well-rounded wideout as he prepares for his rookie season.

“I mean, it’s pretty obvious that I’m fast,” Thornton said Friday. “So now I’m just trying to fill in all the other areas — strength, route-running, contested catches — and trying to become a full, complete receiver.”

Thornton has had ample opportunity to improve in those areas this summer.

The Patriots worked almost exclusively on red-zone situations in their first three practices, so Thornton hasn’t been able to bomb down the field on vertical routes. Operating in the short and intermediate areas, the rail-thin 21-year-old has been highly involved, catching a total of seven passes on nine targets in competitive drills.

Though the majority of Thornton’s receptions thus far have come from backup quarterbacks Brian Hoyer and Bailey Zappe, he’s seen plenty of reps with starter Mac Jones, as well, and has stuck with the top offensive unit during split-squad periods.

In those same periods during the spring, Thornton typically worked with the scout team.

Jakobi Meyers, the longest-tenured member of the Patriots’ receiver group, said he likes what he’s seen from his young position mate.

“(He’s) fast,” Meyers said. “Fast. He’s elusive, too. A lot of people don’t realize how quick he is in and out of his breaks. I feel like Tyquan’s going to have a good career in the league, and I’ll be excited watching him play every day. … Just from OTAs to now, honestly, he’s been a better player already, so I like seeing him go out there.”

Meyers added: “You can tell that he’s happy to learn. All the time he comes up to me and is just like, ‘Watch my route here.’ “

Thornton also has seen work as a punt gunner, running with the second unit behind mainstays Matthew Slater and Justin Bethel. That would be a new role for Thornton. Though he played some in the kicking game in college, he said he logged just two career tackles, and both of those came on interception returns.

He’s embracing it, though, and trying to learn all he can from New England’s longtime special teams captain.

“It’s an honor just to go out there,” Thornton said. “We’ve got Matthew Slater, one of the best to ever do it. So just taking reps behind him at gunner, him coaching us up in the meeting room, (I’m) just taking notes and trying to apply them to the field.”

With a host of veterans (Meyers, DeVante Parker, Kendrick Bourne and Nelson Agholor) currently above him on the depth chart, Thornton might need to begin his pro career as a special teams contributor before eventually carving out a larger offensive role.

With Thornton’s slender frame sparking concerns about his ability to hold up against more physical NFL cornerbacks, he’ll be a player to watch when the Patriots don full pads for the first time Monday.

“I’m just trying to get 1% better every day,” Thornton said. “In 365 days, hopefully I’ll be 365% better.”

Thumbnail photo via David DelPoio/The Providence Journal via USA TODAY Sports Images
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