New England Patriots

  • Patriots rookie wide receiver Tyquan Thornton is officially on the road to recovery.

    Thornton underwent surgery last Monday, Aug. 22, to repair a broken collarbone, as reported by ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler. In his tweet reporting the news, Fowler says the recovery process “should be 6-8 weeks from the procedure but could vary depending on healing and re-acclimation to football.”

    If Thornton’s recovery lasts only six weeks, that would mark Monday, Oct. 3 as his return date. He could be available as soon as Week 5, when the Patriots play the Detroit Lions on Sunday, Oct. 9 at Gillette Stadium.

    But that’s the absolute best possible timetable. Thornton may not be able to return to full football activities until the six-week mark, as he waits for his collarbone to completely heal. If and when he returns to practice for the Patriots, they have a 21-day window to activate him from injured reserve.

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  • Since Thornton is a rookie, even when healthy, the Patriots may need time to trust him enough in a regular role on the offense. Despite Thornton’s evident physical abilities, the team appeared to be bringing him along slowly during the summer. They were already likely to turn to a top-4 rotation of DeVante Parker, Jakobi Meyers, Nelson Agholor, and Kendrick Bourne to start the season.

    The hope is that Thornton can utilize some of his time on the shelf to build knowledge of the Patriots’ system. It could be tough for him to fully grasp every concept without the ability to get on the practice field and run routes, but the bright side is that he excels at the un-coachable – speed, short-area quickness.

  • However, durability has immediately become a concern for Thornton. His slight frame (6-foot-2, 182 pounds) ostensibly hurt his draft stock in the eyes of scouts and analysts, because his pure receiving talent has seemed worthy of first-round consideration. He will need to prove he can hold up over the course of a 17-game season in order to assuage any health worries.

    The Patriots appear to be set with their top-4 wide receivers, barring a surprise trade. Lil’Jordan Humphrey has made a late push for a roster spot with a strong preseason. Additionally, the Patriots have been hosting free-agent receivers for workouts, if only to update their list of emergency options.

    FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - AUGUST 11: Tyquan Thornton #11 of the New England Patriots celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the preseason game between the New York Giants and the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on August 11, 2022 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

    FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS – AUGUST 11: Tyquan Thornton #11 of the New England Patriots celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the preseason game between the New York Giants and the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on August 11, 2022 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

  • Silver lining: Thornton should be ready to practice again some time in October. And if he continues to pick up the offense as he seems to be doing, he’ll have a chance to make an impact in the second half of the season.

    For now, the Patriots will have to roll with their more experienced options at receiver, which they appeared to be doing, anyway. But they’ll have to name Thornton to the 53-man roster in order to make him eligible to return from IR, so you can expect them to cut someone they intend to bring back after shelving Thornton.

    The Patriots’ regular season opener against the Miami Dolphins is set for Sept. 11 at Hard Rock Stadium. We’ll keep you covered throughout the season here at 985TheSportsHub.com.

  • Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff and follow him on Instagram @realmattdolloff. You can also email him at mdolloff@985thesportshub.com.