New England Patriots

New England Patriots

New England Patriots

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - DECEMBER 18: Tyquan Thornton #11 of the New England Patriots reacts during the first half against the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium on December 18, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Getty Images)

Throughout Patriots OTAs, the team dealt with a lack of depth at the wide receiver position. The second open practice saw none of the team’s five veteran receivers on the field, with a few others missing additional sessions.

One of those players is 2022 second-round pick Tyquan Thornton. Thornton was one of the stars of the first practice, but then wasn’t spotted on the field for the next two. Now, we know why.

  • In his Sunday notes column, ESPN’s Mike Reiss reported that Thornton “is managing a soft-tissue-related injury,” which led to the team being “cautious” with his workload. The report doesn’t clarify where Thornton is dealing with the injury (ex. upper body, lower body).

    Durability is a big question for Thornton – who is listed at 6-foot-2, 182 pounds – coming into his sophomore season. The 22 year old receiver had a strong training camp last year, but then broke his collarbone in the team’s second preseason game and missed the first four weeks of the year. While he showed some flashes after returning, he failed to truly pick up on the momentum he had during camp.

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  • Thornton isn’t the only receiver the Patriots are being managing due to injury either. According to Reiss, the team has also been cautious with free agent signing JuJu Smith-Schuster, as he works his way back from a knee injury he suffered in the playoffs last year while with the Kansas City Chiefs.

    That news about Smith-Schuster clears up a curious comment from Belichick prior to the second OTA practice. When asked if the 26-year-old would be participating in practice that day, Belichick simply replied “he’s here,” although Smith-Schuster wasn’t spotted on the field. Given this new context, “here” likely referred to the team facility and not specifically the practice field.

    It will be interesting to see if either player is on the field when the team begins Mandatory Minicamp on Monday. Those practice will also run Tuesday and Wednesday, after which the team breaks until training camp.

  • Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at [email protected].

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