Patriots Work Out Familiar Face Ahead of Potential Roster Move

Getty Nick Thurman

The New England Patriots made a few roster moves on Tuesday and more could be on the way.

After placing linebacker and edge defender Chase Winovich on injured reserve, the team hosted former defensive lineman Nick Thurman for a workout, per Pro Football Focus’ Doug Kyed. The Patriots might need depth upfront and Thurman would be a sensible addition to the team.

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Nick Thurman’s Career and Exit From New England

Still just 26 years old, Thurman played his only season in the NFL with the Patriots. In 2020, he appeared in seven games, starting one of those contests. Thurman did not record a sack, but he did make six tackles, with one of them coming for a loss.

The Dallas native went undrafted out of Houston University but Bill Belichick gave him an opportunity to play in 2020, and he may be on the cusp of providing his next NFL opportunity. The Patriots released Thurman in September, just before the start of the season and came to an agreement with him on an undisclosed injury settlement, per the NFL transaction wire.

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We’ll see if he returns, and if so, if his second stint with New England brings more success and longevity.


Patriots Work Out Free Agent WR

The Patriots also had free-agent wide receiver Austin Watkins in for a workout with Thurman. Watkins, who is 23 years old wasn’t drafted this season, but he did sign with the San Francisco 49ers back in May. Obviously raw, Watkins has some impressive physical attributes.

At 6-foot-3 and weighing in at 210 pounds, he has a frame that is similar to N’Keal Harry. With Harry obviously struggling to live up to his potential, you have to wonder if Watkins might have what it takes to give New England the big, physical receiver they’ve been hoping to land.

NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein had Watkins pegged as a 4th or 5th-round selection, but he slipped out of the draft altogether. Zierlein believed Watkins has what it takes to potentially become a starter down the road.

Here’s what he wrote about Watkins:

Big wideout with above-average hands and good physicality who could take a big step forward if he can improve consistency of his tracking and ball skills down the field. Watkins shows good build-up speed for his size and has enough athleticism to run basic routes on the first two levels. He can use size and strength to battle against press corners looking to blanket him underneath. In addition, he has the frame and hand strength to make contested catches. He’s good at finding the soft spots in zone and is a wide, reliable target quarterbacks can depend on. Watkins needs more polish to clearly define his role, but he could be a solid middle-round pick with future value as a WR3.

Watkins might have a hard time cracking the 53-man roster with the Patriots. The team already has players like Kristian Wilkerson and Tre Nixon on the practice squad. Watkins would need to leapfrog those two to get into the rotation.

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