FOXBORO, Mass. — Tyquan Thornton has generated considerable hype as he works his way through his first New England Patriots training camp.
Troy Brown wasn’t about to add to that Monday.
The Patriots’ receivers coach was stingy with compliments when asked about the promising rookie wideout, saying only that Thornton still has a lot to improve upon.
“Have I seen the type of growth from Tyquan?” Brown said before the Patriots’ latest camp practice. “He’s been here three weeks. We’ve been in camp three weeks. He’s got a long way to go.”
Brown was asked what he likes about Thornton, the second-round draft pick who ran a blazing 4.28-second 40-yard dash at this year’s combine but has impressed with his quickness and ball tracking this summer.
“Well, he was fast,” Brown replied. “He had a great time at the combine. We’ll see if he can translate it over to the football field. He’s a good kid.”
Brown also downplayed the touchdown Thornton scored in last Thursday’s preseason opener against the New York Giants.
Thornton used some nifty footwork in the end zone to separate from cornerback Aaron Robinson, who was called for defensive holding on the play.
“He’s all right,” Brown said. “He’s got a long way to go. He’s a rookie. He’s got a long, long, long way to go. It was a preseason game.”
Thornton finished with just two catches on two targets for 9 yards and was flagged for offensive pass interference in his preseason debut. Regardless, it was another encouraging outing for the 21-year-old, who’s garnered much higher praise from some of his fellow Patriots players this summer.
“Of course, we all know he’s fast,” cornerback Jalen Mills said early in camp. “I think the biggest thing for me seeing from him as a rookie, he’s not just running go routes. You see him working his short-to-intermediate routes, as well, and I think that’s what you want to see (from) a fast guy, because we know he can do that at any moment.”
Added receiver Jakobi Meyers: “A lot of people don’t realize how quick he is in and out of his breaks.”
Thornton has seen reps with the Mac Jones-led first-team offense in nearly every training camp practice, but it remains to be seen how large of a role he’ll play this season. The Patriots currently have four veteran receivers atop their depth chart in Meyers, DeVante Parker, Kendrick Bourne and Nelson Agholor, plus a handful of roster hopefuls (Tre Nixon, Kristian Wilkerson, Lil’Jordan Humphrey) pushing for spots.
With so much depth in that receiver room, New England could look to trade one of its veterans — Agholor, who’s due a hefty salary of $9 million, is a prime candidate — before the season. Doing so would be a strong endorsement of Thornton, who’s trying to break the Patriots’ years-long streak of failed draft picks at the position.
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