The Patriots could be in for a shakeup at wide receiver this week
On Tuesday, the New England Patriots held their first open practice of the week, and first since their Week 5 34-0 loss to the New Orleans Saints. Based on who was and wasn’t on the field, things could look very different this week at the wide receiver position.
The Patriots were without two of their top contributing receivers at Tuesday’s practice in JuJu Smith-Schuster and Demario Douglas. Both players left Sunday’s game early with head injuries.
Smith-Schuster, signed as a free agent this offseason, has been the team’s third wide receiver in 11 personnel sets. His 57.6 percent usage rate trails only DeVante Parker and Kendrick Bourne at the position.
Through five games, Smith-Schuster’s 14 catches rank second among wide receivers on the team. He’s totaled 86 receiving yards.
Douglas, a rookie sixth-round pick who was one of the stars of training camp, has the fourth-highest usage rate at receiver at 24.2 percent. Still he’s been impactful when he’s been on the field, catching 10 passes for 143 yards. His 14.3 yards per catch lead all Patriots receivers. The next update on both Smith-Schuster and Douglas should come on Wednesday, when the team releases its first injury report of the week.
While the Patriots were down two receivers at Tuesday’s practice, they got a player back as well. Tyquan Thornton returned to the field for the first time since a shoulder injury during joint practices with the Green Bay Packers back in August, which ultimately landed him on IR to start the season.
The Patriots now have 21 days to activate Thornton from IR, or he reverts and becomes ineligible to play for the rest of the year. Thornton is now the third player who the Patriots have designated to return, joining Trey Flowers and Cody Davis, who were added to that list last week.
Thornton, a second-round pick in 2022, caught 22 passes for 247 yards and two touchdowns in 13 games as a rookie. His speed could help the Patriots’ offense, especially with Douglas – the most explosive player through the first four weeks – potentially having to miss time.