The New England Patriots held their 10th open practice of training camp on Sunday, as they get ready for the 2023 season. Here are 10 players who stood out to us on the field, for various reasons…
WR Tyquan Thornton
Thornton himself stood out in both good and bad ways, but what caught our eyes the most is merely who Thornton worked with in passing game drills.
During one early session in Sunday’s practice behind Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, projected starting quarterback Mac Jones worked with four wide receivers: JuJu Smith-Schuster, DeVante Parker, Kendrick Bourne, and … Demario Douglas. Thornton, meanwhile, worked at the other end of the field with backups Bailey Zappe and Trace McSorely, and a receiver group that included Tre Nixon, Malik Cunningham, and rookie Kayshon Boutte.
Thornton and Douglas both mixed in reps with Jones and the starters during 11-on-11 drills, sometimes on the field at the same time. Thornton got one target from Jones in the corner of the end zone during 11-on-11, but cornerback Myles Bryant elevated to disrupt the throw. Douglas caught one short pass from Jones in the same session.
Thornton did make a nice catch from Zappe in 7-on-7, as he got a step on double-coverage and gathered a well-placed deep ball in the 30-40 yard range down the left sideline. But his apparent overall regression has been one of the most striking developments in training camp. Thornton wasn’t concerned about his lack of “production” when he spoke to reporters last Friday.
“Not many targets, but we’re not counting stats,” Thornton said. “That’s not what this camp is about. We’re trying to get better as a unit.”
Since then, it feels like Thornton has only continued to go backward. Or it’s just Douglas continuing a meteoric rise. Either way, the unit is leaning more toward Douglas at the moment. Thornton should still make the team either way, but he’s got a long way to go.