No Good News for Patriots Speedy 2nd-Rounder Ahead of Week 5

Tyquan Thornton, Patriots wide receiver

Getty Tyquan Thornton, Patriots wide receiver

We’re heading into Week 5 in the NFL, and it does not appear that we’ll see the one long-ball threat on the Patriots roster—wide receiver Tyquan Thornton, the team’s second-round pick in 2022—on the field just yet. As the Patriots offense continues to search for something, anything, to ignite what has been the third-most feeble attack in the league this year, averaging 13.8 points per game.

Thornton injured his shoulder during joint practices with the Green Bay Packers back in training camp and was put on injured reserve when the Patriots made their final 53-man roster cutdowns at the end of August. That left him ineligible to play for the first four weeks, but he can get back on the field now.

Thornton was seen at the Patriots’ facility this week, but he has not practiced. The team has three weeks from when he first starts to practice to activate him, and the fact that he has not begun working out indicates that the Patriots are not playing him this week.

Certainly, the Patriots could use him—Thornton ran a 4.28-second 40-yard dash ahead of the 2022 NFL draft, making him the fastest wide-receiver prospect in the group, and the third-fastest overall.

Quarterback Mac Jones, anticipating Thornton’s eventual return, said this week, “You’d obviously love to have a guy like that out there. Happy to have him back hopefully soon.”

Patriots Want to Throw Deep

Jones would especially like to see Thornton on the field. He has been willing to chuck the ball deep over the course of this season, with 19 deep throws (20 or more yards) on his docket, per Pro Football Focus. He has completed only four of those passes, though.

That is, in part, because the Patriots just do not have fast players, anywhere on the field but especially at wide receiver. Rookie Pop Douglas is the team’s lone healthy speedster and is third among receivers with 15 targets this year.

Analyst and former NFL quarterback Boomer Esiason has been harping on the Patriots’ lack of speed all season. Last month, he said on WEEI’s Greg Hill Show (via

“I’m telling you, it’s speed. Instead of having 4.3 [40-yard dash] guys, you have 4.5, 4.6 guys. The opposing team, if you’re not tricking them or fooling them, can stay with your guys. A couple times I saw deep throws – it wasn’t like they weren’t trying to do that – but it seemed like those guys were all covered or a ball was underthrown by Mac Jones that led to an interception. This whole entire league is built on speed. The dynamic speed that guys like Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle bring to a game completely puts the defense on their heels.

“The Patriots don’t have anybody like that. They have good, solid players, don’t get me wrong, but those solid players are not amongst the top 10 when it comes to explosive plays.”

Thornton Was Injured to Start Rookie Season

The concern with Thornton is that this is the second consecutive year that he has not been able to be on the field to start the season—he had an upper body injury early last season, too, (a broken clavicle) and missed the first four games. At 6-foot-3 and 182 pounds, there is question about whether Thornton can be durable enough to be an every-week contributor in the NFL.

He showed some promise in 13 games last season but never really got fully integrated in the offense, making 22 catches for 247 yards. He had three drops on the season, per PFF.

The Patriots’ other receivers would welcome Thornton back, too. His ability to get vertical could, potentially, create more space for them.

“He’s very important to our offense,” Bourne said last week, per “He’s gonna stretch the field for us even more. He’s just a different threat. … His speed is just, it’s unique. And we need that right now.”



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