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July 29 in Pats History: Pepper Johnson

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jmt57

Moderator
Staff member
Today in Patriots History
Pepper Johnson


Happy 57th birthday to Pepper Johnson
Born July 29, 1964 in Detroit
Patriot coach, 2000-2013
Assistant linebackers coach (2000); inside linebackers coach (2001-03); defensive line coach (2004-11); linebackers coach (2012-13)

Thomas "Pepper" (he earned that nickname as a kid because he like to put pepper on his corn flakes) Johnson was a coach for 14 years with the New England Patriots, receiving rings for Super Bowls 36, 38 and 39. He also owns two more as an inside linebacker with the Giants, when he played for head coach Bill Parcells and defensive coordinator Bill Belichick. Over the course of a 13 year NFL career that included two Pro Bowls he made 1,090 tackles, 14 interceptions, 12 forced fumbles, 8 fumble recoveries and 25.5 sacks. Pepper Johnson is now the head football coach at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.

During his time as a coach in New England the Patriots compiled a regular season record of 163-61 and a postseason record of 18-8, while making it to the conference championship more often (8 times) than not (6).




Feb 2, 2001:

Also spending time with the media Friday was Pepper Johnson, now the inside linebacker’s coach. Like Crennel, Johnson has a long relationship with Belichick. He played for Belichick with the Giants, Browns and Jets. Before stepping away from the game after the 1998 season, Johnson had actually wanted to retire before Belichick asked him to play in Cleveland in 1993.​

“I had wanted to retire four years earlier,” Johnson said. “Coach Belichick called me and asked me to help those guys out with the situation they had there. He lured me out of retirement that way, and that’s the kind of relationship he and I have.”​

Johnson spent 2000 with the Patriots as a defensive assistant after Belichick asked him to come in and help out during training camp.​


Sept 1, 2018:

Pepper Johnson spent 32 seasons in the NFL as a player and coach. From 2000 through 2013 he was with the Patriots.​

A former player for Bill Belichick and Bill Parcells, Johnson was a defensive coaching mainstay and beloved by his players. But when he was passed over for the defensive coordinator spot in favor of Matt Patricia, it rankled him.​

The launch point in a sprawling interview with Deadspin’s Dom Consentino is Johnson’s departure from the Jets. And there’s a lot on their dysfunction from ownership to the coaching staff to what went wrong with Muhammad Wilkerson.​

All of it’s fascinating. But the headline stuff around here is Johnson’s insights on the Patriots and especially Bill Belichick.​


August 31,2018:

Uh. [long pause] Belichick would take us out. He would thank us. Most likely it was like a Ruth’s Chris or something like that. Now, have I ever seen Bill with two or three drinks? Yes. But I can’t say I’ve ever seen him—like, he’s not a lush. He came to LT’s 56th birthday in New York; this was when I was coaching with the Jets. The first thing he says to me is something football-related, something LT did or he said—it was something football-related. This guy’s head, it never gets off of football.​

Johnson never wanted to let Belichick see him drunk, lest he get ragged on by the coach.​

“He would have clowned me,” Johnson said. “We’d be watching film. ‘Yeah, you can turn up that Jack Daniel’s or you can drink that, but you can’t sit over here and make this tackle.’ I didn’t want to give him any ammunition.”​


August 31, 2018:

They weren’t taping the other team’s signals, though. Wasn’t that the issue with Spygate?

But just so that you know, what’s more important? A signal, or what someone is saying? The last I checked, I’ve never seen an offensive coordinator or a defensive coordinator—even the guys up in the booth—cover their mouth when they’re talking. So once upon a time you had lip readers that were sitting up there reading lips.​

Who did that?

It was just teams that were doing that. That’s why I’m kind of presenting that as a question to you. If no one was doing anything—if we’re using the word ‘cheating’ or ‘illegal’—then why do those guys cover their mouth? You cannot watch a video on the sideline, right? So if someone videotaped anybody, that’s for a later date, or a later time. They even make sure that you’ve got people in the locker room from the other team. Like, the equipment guy. I guess those guys sit around just to make sure no one is watching the video, or you have no video hookups like that. So you’re talking about the next game.​

So Spygate wasn’t a big deal because everyone was doing it?

Let me put it this way: Whomever wasn’t doing anything similar or something like that, they weren’t trying. They didn’t know football.​

Why did Eric Mangini turn you guys in, then?

Uh. That’s a whole other story.​




Jan 31, 2014:

Jan 24, 2015:

Jan 16, 2015:

This time, Pepper Johnson was sure his chance was coming. He had finally stepped out from Bill Belichick's long shadow. His old team, the Giants, was talking to him about the defensive coordinator job he has always wanted.​

Then his phone rang on Thursday morning and Tom Coughlin told him, "We're going in a different direction." And just like that, Johnson got that same feeling of frustration he has felt for years.​

"I feel bottled up," Johnson, the former Giants linebacker, told the Daily News on Thursday afternoon. "I have a lot of knowledge and a lot of information that I feel like I just have to keep to myself."​

Johnson, 50, would prefer to share that knowledge, but after 15 years as an NFL assistant coach he feels stuck in a role as a position coach — a fact that remained unchanged on Thursday when the Giants passed him over and rehired Steve Spagnuolo as defensive coordinator instead. Johnson said he felt like he could give so much more to the game if he were running a defense of his own. And he thought getting out of New England — after 14 years of coaching the Patriots' linebackers and defensive linemen — would help push him in that direction, especially after he was passed over by Belichick for the Patriots defensive coordinator job in 2012.​

At first it seemed to work. After Johnson spent a season coaching the Buffalo Bills defensive line in 2014, the Giants called to interview him as soon as they fired defensive coordinator Perry Fewell last week. And they weren't doing it as a favor to an old friend, either. A team source insisted Coughlin was genuinely interested in Johnson as a candidate for the job.​

Amazingly, it was his first-ever interview for a defensive coordinator position, and Johnson said he left thinking he had a real shot.​

"I thought it went real well," Johnson said. "I went out after the interview doing that old Toyota commercial, jumping and clicking my heels."​

Now, though, he may instead be left out of a job completely. Johnson said he was told by Rex Ryan, the new Bills coach, that a job would be waiting for him on Ryan's staff if things didn't work out with the Giants. Johnson said he spoke to Ryan about that as recently as Wednesday. But on Thursday, the Bills announced Ryan's new staff and there was no mention of Johnson. And even though Johnson is technically still under contract in Buffalo, it appeared that every defensive job on the staff was filled.​

"Moving away from the Patriots, spending a year in Buffalo, I was hoping it would open doors and open some eyes, that more people would be watching," Johnson said, "and (that some team) will give me a call before all this is said and done."​



Pepper Johnson finally did land a job as a defensive coordinator - and was fired 24 hours after his first game as a DC.

May 31, 2019:

Feb 11, 2020:

July 7, 2020:

June 23, 2021:
 

jmt57

Moderator
Staff member
Today in Patriots History
Kenbrell Thompkins


Happy 33rd birthday to Kenbrell Thompkins
Born July 29, 1988 in Liberty City, Florida
Patriot WR, 2013-2014; uniform #85
Signed as an undrafted rookie free agent on May 3, 2013, from the University of Cincinnati

Sept 15, 2013:

On Feb. 28, 2007, Miami police pulled over the 18-year-old Thompkins for reckless driving. As the arrest report details, he “removed from his right rear pocket a clear ziplock bag and dropped it on the ground.” Inside the bag, officers found 18 multicolored packets containing “suspected powder cocaine” and “suspected rock cocaine.” In a separate knotted bag, there were “forty-four pieces of suspected rock cocaine.” Thompkins faced jail time for cocaine possession with intent to sell.​


Aug 1, 2013:

“It was really scary to see him going down the wrong path and knowing what kind of talent and what kind of person that he really is,” said Steelers receiver Antonio Brown, who is Thompkins’ cousin and grew up in the same neighborhood. “I just think he got caught up in the wrong environment, picking the wrong friends, hanging around the wrong people and not having the right focus in the right places.”​

Thompkins almost found a way out when he committed to Morgan State, but he didn’t have the grades to enroll.​

Thompkins enrolled at El Camino College in Torrance, Calif., where he became dedicated to his grades and personal rehabilitation. Thompkins graduated as the two-year school’s all-time leading receiver, and athletic director Tony Barbone described him as the hardest worker on the team and model leader.​

Thompkins signed a letter of intent with the University of Tennessee, but backed out when then-coach Lane Kiffin bolted for USC. Tennessee made it difficult for Thompkins to break his commitment, and he struggled to find other programs that were convinced of his turnaround.​

That’s when his cousin backed him up. Brown played at Central Michigan for coach Butch Jones, who had since taken over at Cincinnati. Brown put himself on the line for his cousin.​

“Antonio Brown is like a son to me,” said Jones, who ironically is now at Tennessee. “Antonio told me, ‘Coach, I’m willing to put my reputation on the line for him. I’m willing to put our relationship on the line for him.’ That got (Thompkins) into the door with us. Once I sat him down in the office, I saw a young man who was humbled. I saw a young man who was hungry. I saw a young man who didn’t deny the past. I think he owned up to his past, and he wanted another opportunity.”​

The son of a longtime chief of police, Jones believed in Thompkins’ character from that meeting, but he instilled a zero-tolerance policy. Jones said he met every demand in three years.​

Thompkins, who had to sit out in 2010 due to breaking his commitment to Tennessee, caught 78 passes for 1,077 yards and four scores in two seasons with Cincinnati. Most importantly in Jones’ eyes, Thompkins graduated with, of all things, a degree in criminal justice.​


Sept 23, 2013:

For 10 days, the talk was about Brady not trusting his rookie receivers, or those rookie receivers getting fancy new nicknames with the words “Drop” not-so-cleverly fit into their last name...​

Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins responded to a week-plus of negativity with very strong performances. Dobson was Brady’s go-to receiver when he needed a first down, with Dobson picking up three with receptions and also moving the chains another time by drawing a pass interference penalty, while Thompkins stepped up as the red zone target that had been sorely lacking for the past two weeks. Thompson caught his first touchdown pass in the second quarter, and before halftime, Brady looked at Thompkins and Thompkins alone for another touchdown.​


Sept 30, 2013:

Thompkins’ night began with a drop when a pass hit him right on the hands, and he would have another big drop later in the game. However, those were mere footnotes by the end of the night due to the rookie’s big game.​

Thompkins finished the night with a team-high 127 yards on six receptions, and that included an incredible show of athleticism on a touchdown reception while diving out of bounds.​

That may not even have been the biggest play of the night for the undrafted rookie out of Cincinnati. That honor may belong to the grab he made over the middle of the field on a third-and-19. He made the catch despite William Moore flying at him like a missile, keeping a drive alive and preventing the Patriots from being forced to punt out of their own end zone. On the very next play, LeGarrette Blount broke free for a 46-yard touchdown run that gave the Patriots a 10-point lead and changed the game.​

Thanks to Thompkins and Edelman, Tom Brady topped the 300-yard mark for the first time of the season. Of his 316 yards, 77.5 percent of it came from the duo of Thompkins and Edelman and just 71 yards coming from the rest of the team.​


Oct 14, 2013:

In their most memorable victory in recent memory, the New England Patriots capped a 70-yard drive with a Tom Brady touchdown pass to Kenbrell Thompkins with five seconds remaining in the game to pull out a 30-27 win over the previously undefeated New Orleans Saints at Gillette Stadium Sunday. In spite of their offensive struggles this season, the Patriots remain in first place in the AFC East with a 5-1 record.​



Tom Brady to Kenbrell Thompkins game winning TD vs the Saints Oct 13, 2012




July 30, 2014:

“He earned that starting position with his good play and his consistency, but this year he is way passed that,” said Belichick. “Experience has a lot to do with that, and his offseason work also has a lot to do with it. He knows what to expect and has a much better understanding so he can play with more confidence and more aggressiveness.”​

Thompkins had a decent rookie season after going undrafted out of Cincinnati in 2013, finishing the year with 32 receptions and four touchdowns in 12 games. But he had just nine receptions in the second half of the year, and was inactive for four games towards the end of the season. We’ll see if he can put together a complete season in his second year in the league.​


Sept 7, 2015:

Kenbrell Thompkins got caught in a roster riptide last season. Dropping him wasn’t something the Patriots wanted to do, but something they felt they had to do.​

Proof? The day after his Saturday release, Belichick said during the Patriots pregame show that "I enjoyed working with KT. Hope we get an opportunity to work with him in the future."​

That time has come around again as Thompkins has been re-signed to the Patriots practice squad.​

Thompkins got released at a time when the Patriots offense couldn’t be the Patriots offense because of protection problems up front. I would argue that Thompkins may be better than Aaron Dobson. Thompkins wasn’t a second-round pick, though. It will be interesting to see whether Thompkins can recreate some of the chemistry he built with Tom Brady in 2013.​



Kenbrell Thompkins played in 14 games with nine starts with the Patriots. He caught 38 of the 80 passes thrown his way, for 519 yards (13.7 ypc) and four touchdowns. Thompkins also played for the Raiders between his two stints with the Patriots, and later with the Jets. He played in a total of 33 NFL games, with 70 receptions for 893 yards and four TDs.
 

jmt57

Moderator
Staff member
Today in Patriots History
More July 29 Tidbits







Happy 39th birthday to Mark Levoir
Born July 29, 1982 in Minneapolis
Patriot OT, 2008-2010; uniform #64
Claimed off waivers from the Rams on September 1, 2008

Prior to arriving in New England, Mark LeVoir spent one season in NFL Europe and two years on Chicago's practice squad. He played in 32 games for the Patriots with two starts, and later played in ten more games for the Rams and the Ravens. With the exception of the two starts due to injuries, the bulk of his playing time was on special teams, with occasional snaps as a sixth offensive lineman.





Feb 23, 2010:

Feb 24, 2010:

Aug 17, 2011:

Aug 23, 2011:




Happy birthday to Braxston Cave
Born July 29, 1989 in Granger, Indiana
Patriot center, 2014 offseason/practice squad; uniform #60
Claimed off waivers from the Browns on September 1, 2013

Braxston Cave was an undrafted rookie from Notre Dame who spent his rookie offseason with Cleveland. The Browns waived him in order to get down to the 53-man roster limit at the end of training camp, and the Pats claimed him. Four days later Cave was released in order to make room on the roster for James Develin. Cave spent the entire 2014 season the New England's practice squad, and was again waived at the end of training camp.

In 2015 Cave split the season on Washington and Cleveland's practice squads, then was with Detroit for their 2016 offseason, and on the Lion's practice squad for the full year. Detroit released him shortly after the 2016 draft. While it is unfortunate for Cave that he never did get onto the field for a real NFL game, pity not. Braxston is now the Vice President for Lippert Components, a manufacturer of RV, marine, automotive, commercial vehicle, and building products.

June 21, 2016:

Aug 15, 2018:






July 29, 2019:




Other pro football players born on July 29 with New England connections:

- DE Keith Willis, 62 (1959): Northeastern
139 games played from 1982-93, mostly with Pittsburgh

- FB Greg Comella, 46 (1975): born in Wellesley; Xaverian High School
Played in 88 games from 1998-2004, primarily with the Giants. Now is the business manager of his family's Comella's Restaurants.

- OT Mike Gulian (1900-70): Newton High School, Brown University
Played for five seasons, including 1925-27 for the Providence Steam Roller.

- OT Pete Rostosky, 60 (1961): UConn
Offensive tackle for the Steelers in the eighties.

- QB Gary Marangi, 69 (1952): Boston College
His very first NFL pass was good for a touchdown for the Bills against Miami in 1974.

- DB/RB Al Kowalski (1921-59): Central HS, Bridgeport CT
34th overall pick of the 1945 NFL draft.




Some notable pro football players sharing this birthdate:

- QB Dak Prescott, 28 (1993)

- LB Jeff Herrod, 55 (1966); played in 153 games over 11 seasons, all but one for the Colts.

- RB Les Josephson, 79 (1942); scored 28 TD with 5,377 yards from scrimmage for the Rams from 1964 to 1974.
 

captain stone

Hall of Fame Poster
Today in Patriots History
Pepper Johnson


Happy 57th birthday to Pepper Johnson
Born July 29, 1964 in Detroit
Patriot coach, 2000-2013
Assistant linebackers coach (2000); inside linebackers coach (2001-03); defensive line coach (2004-11); linebackers coach (2012-13)

Thomas "Pepper" (he earned that nickname as a kid because he like to put pepper on his corn flakes) Johnson was a coach for 14 years with the New England Patriots, receiving rings for Super Bowls 36, 38 and 39. He also owns two more as an inside linebacker with the Giants, when he played for head coach Bill Parcells and defensive coordinator Bill Belichick. Over the course of a 13 year NFL career that included two Pro Bowls he made 1,090 tackles, 14 interceptions, 12 forced fumbles, 8 fumble recoveries and 25.5 sacks. Pepper Johnson is now the head football coach at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.

During his time as a coach in New England the Patriots compiled a regular season record of 163-61 and a postseason record of 18-8, while making it to the conference championship more often (8 times) than not (6).




Feb 2, 2001:

Also spending time with the media Friday was Pepper Johnson, now the inside linebacker’s coach. Like Crennel, Johnson has a long relationship with Belichick. He played for Belichick with the Giants, Browns and Jets. Before stepping away from the game after the 1998 season, Johnson had actually wanted to retire before Belichick asked him to play in Cleveland in 1993.​

“I had wanted to retire four years earlier,” Johnson said. “Coach Belichick called me and asked me to help those guys out with the situation they had there. He lured me out of retirement that way, and that’s the kind of relationship he and I have.”​

Johnson spent 2000 with the Patriots as a defensive assistant after Belichick asked him to come in and help out during training camp.​


Sept 1, 2018:

Pepper Johnson spent 32 seasons in the NFL as a player and coach. From 2000 through 2013 he was with the Patriots.​

A former player for Bill Belichick and Bill Parcells, Johnson was a defensive coaching mainstay and beloved by his players. But when he was passed over for the defensive coordinator spot in favor of Matt Patricia, it rankled him.​

The launch point in a sprawling interview with Deadspin’s Dom Consentino is Johnson’s departure from the Jets. And there’s a lot on their dysfunction from ownership to the coaching staff to what went wrong with Muhammad Wilkerson.​

All of it’s fascinating. But the headline stuff around here is Johnson’s insights on the Patriots and especially Bill Belichick.​


August 31,2018:

Uh. [long pause] Belichick would take us out. He would thank us. Most likely it was like a Ruth’s Chris or something like that. Now, have I ever seen Bill with two or three drinks? Yes. But I can’t say I’ve ever seen him—like, he’s not a lush. He came to LT’s 56th birthday in New York; this was when I was coaching with the Jets. The first thing he says to me is something football-related, something LT did or he said—it was something football-related. This guy’s head, it never gets off of football.​

Johnson never wanted to let Belichick see him drunk, lest he get ragged on by the coach.​

“He would have clowned me,” Johnson said. “We’d be watching film. ‘Yeah, you can turn up that Jack Daniel’s or you can drink that, but you can’t sit over here and make this tackle.’ I didn’t want to give him any ammunition.”​


August 31, 2018:

They weren’t taping the other team’s signals, though. Wasn’t that the issue with Spygate?

But just so that you know, what’s more important? A signal, or what someone is saying? The last I checked, I’ve never seen an offensive coordinator or a defensive coordinator—even the guys up in the booth—cover their mouth when they’re talking. So once upon a time you had lip readers that were sitting up there reading lips.​

Who did that?

It was just teams that were doing that. That’s why I’m kind of presenting that as a question to you. If no one was doing anything—if we’re using the word ‘cheating’ or ‘illegal’—then why do those guys cover their mouth? You cannot watch a video on the sideline, right? So if someone videotaped anybody, that’s for a later date, or a later time. They even make sure that you’ve got people in the locker room from the other team. Like, the equipment guy. I guess those guys sit around just to make sure no one is watching the video, or you have no video hookups like that. So you’re talking about the next game.​

So Spygate wasn’t a big deal because everyone was doing it?

Let me put it this way: Whomever wasn’t doing anything similar or something like that, they weren’t trying. They didn’t know football.​

Why did Eric Mangini turn you guys in, then?

Uh. That’s a whole other story.​




Jan 31, 2014:

Jan 24, 2015:

Jan 16, 2015:

This time, Pepper Johnson was sure his chance was coming. He had finally stepped out from Bill Belichick's long shadow. His old team, the Giants, was talking to him about the defensive coordinator job he has always wanted.​

Then his phone rang on Thursday morning and Tom Coughlin told him, "We're going in a different direction." And just like that, Johnson got that same feeling of frustration he has felt for years.​

"I feel bottled up," Johnson, the former Giants linebacker, told the Daily News on Thursday afternoon. "I have a lot of knowledge and a lot of information that I feel like I just have to keep to myself."​

Johnson, 50, would prefer to share that knowledge, but after 15 years as an NFL assistant coach he feels stuck in a role as a position coach — a fact that remained unchanged on Thursday when the Giants passed him over and rehired Steve Spagnuolo as defensive coordinator instead. Johnson said he felt like he could give so much more to the game if he were running a defense of his own. And he thought getting out of New England — after 14 years of coaching the Patriots' linebackers and defensive linemen — would help push him in that direction, especially after he was passed over by Belichick for the Patriots defensive coordinator job in 2012.​

At first it seemed to work. After Johnson spent a season coaching the Buffalo Bills defensive line in 2014, the Giants called to interview him as soon as they fired defensive coordinator Perry Fewell last week. And they weren't doing it as a favor to an old friend, either. A team source insisted Coughlin was genuinely interested in Johnson as a candidate for the job.​

Amazingly, it was his first-ever interview for a defensive coordinator position, and Johnson said he left thinking he had a real shot.​

"I thought it went real well," Johnson said. "I went out after the interview doing that old Toyota commercial, jumping and clicking my heels."​

Now, though, he may instead be left out of a job completely. Johnson said he was told by Rex Ryan, the new Bills coach, that a job would be waiting for him on Ryan's staff if things didn't work out with the Giants. Johnson said he spoke to Ryan about that as recently as Wednesday. But on Thursday, the Bills announced Ryan's new staff and there was no mention of Johnson. And even though Johnson is technically still under contract in Buffalo, it appeared that every defensive job on the staff was filled.​

"Moving away from the Patriots, spending a year in Buffalo, I was hoping it would open doors and open some eyes, that more people would be watching," Johnson said, "and (that some team) will give me a call before all this is said and done."​



Pepper Johnson finally did land a job as a defensive coordinator - and was fired 24 hours after his first game as a DC.

May 31, 2019:

Feb 11, 2020:

July 7, 2020:

June 23, 2021:

Pepper to the defense during the 4th quarter of SB 36: This is why you lift those weights!
 

captain stone

Hall of Fame Poster
Today in Patriots History
Kenbrell Thompkins


Happy 33rd birthday to Kenbrell Thompkins
Born July 29, 1988 in Liberty City, Florida
Patriot WR, 2013-2014; uniform #85
Signed as an undrafted rookie free agent on May 3, 2013, from the University of Cincinnati

Sept 15, 2013:

On Feb. 28, 2007, Miami police pulled over the 18-year-old Thompkins for reckless driving. As the arrest report details, he “removed from his right rear pocket a clear ziplock bag and dropped it on the ground.” Inside the bag, officers found 18 multicolored packets containing “suspected powder cocaine” and “suspected rock cocaine.” In a separate knotted bag, there were “forty-four pieces of suspected rock cocaine.” Thompkins faced jail time for cocaine possession with intent to sell.​


Aug 1, 2013:

“It was really scary to see him going down the wrong path and knowing what kind of talent and what kind of person that he really is,” said Steelers receiver Antonio Brown, who is Thompkins’ cousin and grew up in the same neighborhood. “I just think he got caught up in the wrong environment, picking the wrong friends, hanging around the wrong people and not having the right focus in the right places.”​

Thompkins almost found a way out when he committed to Morgan State, but he didn’t have the grades to enroll.​

Thompkins enrolled at El Camino College in Torrance, Calif., where he became dedicated to his grades and personal rehabilitation. Thompkins graduated as the two-year school’s all-time leading receiver, and athletic director Tony Barbone described him as the hardest worker on the team and model leader.​

Thompkins signed a letter of intent with the University of Tennessee, but backed out when then-coach Lane Kiffin bolted for USC. Tennessee made it difficult for Thompkins to break his commitment, and he struggled to find other programs that were convinced of his turnaround.​

That’s when his cousin backed him up. Brown played at Central Michigan for coach Butch Jones, who had since taken over at Cincinnati. Brown put himself on the line for his cousin.​

“Antonio Brown is like a son to me,” said Jones, who ironically is now at Tennessee. “Antonio told me, ‘Coach, I’m willing to put my reputation on the line for him. I’m willing to put our relationship on the line for him.’ That got (Thompkins) into the door with us. Once I sat him down in the office, I saw a young man who was humbled. I saw a young man who was hungry. I saw a young man who didn’t deny the past. I think he owned up to his past, and he wanted another opportunity.”​

The son of a longtime chief of police, Jones believed in Thompkins’ character from that meeting, but he instilled a zero-tolerance policy. Jones said he met every demand in three years.​

Thompkins, who had to sit out in 2010 due to breaking his commitment to Tennessee, caught 78 passes for 1,077 yards and four scores in two seasons with Cincinnati. Most importantly in Jones’ eyes, Thompkins graduated with, of all things, a degree in criminal justice.​


Sept 23, 2013:

For 10 days, the talk was about Brady not trusting his rookie receivers, or those rookie receivers getting fancy new nicknames with the words “Drop” not-so-cleverly fit into their last name...​

Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins responded to a week-plus of negativity with very strong performances. Dobson was Brady’s go-to receiver when he needed a first down, with Dobson picking up three with receptions and also moving the chains another time by drawing a pass interference penalty, while Thompkins stepped up as the red zone target that had been sorely lacking for the past two weeks. Thompson caught his first touchdown pass in the second quarter, and before halftime, Brady looked at Thompkins and Thompkins alone for another touchdown.​


Sept 30, 2013:

Thompkins’ night began with a drop when a pass hit him right on the hands, and he would have another big drop later in the game. However, those were mere footnotes by the end of the night due to the rookie’s big game.​

Thompkins finished the night with a team-high 127 yards on six receptions, and that included an incredible show of athleticism on a touchdown reception while diving out of bounds.​

That may not even have been the biggest play of the night for the undrafted rookie out of Cincinnati. That honor may belong to the grab he made over the middle of the field on a third-and-19. He made the catch despite William Moore flying at him like a missile, keeping a drive alive and preventing the Patriots from being forced to punt out of their own end zone. On the very next play, LeGarrette Blount broke free for a 46-yard touchdown run that gave the Patriots a 10-point lead and changed the game.​

Thanks to Thompkins and Edelman, Tom Brady topped the 300-yard mark for the first time of the season. Of his 316 yards, 77.5 percent of it came from the duo of Thompkins and Edelman and just 71 yards coming from the rest of the team.​


Oct 14, 2013:

In their most memorable victory in recent memory, the New England Patriots capped a 70-yard drive with a Tom Brady touchdown pass to Kenbrell Thompkins with five seconds remaining in the game to pull out a 30-27 win over the previously undefeated New Orleans Saints at Gillette Stadium Sunday. In spite of their offensive struggles this season, the Patriots remain in first place in the AFC East with a 5-1 record.​



Tom Brady to Kenbrell Thompkins game winning TD vs the Saints Oct 13, 2012




July 30, 2014:

“He earned that starting position with his good play and his consistency, but this year he is way passed that,” said Belichick. “Experience has a lot to do with that, and his offseason work also has a lot to do with it. He knows what to expect and has a much better understanding so he can play with more confidence and more aggressiveness.”​

Thompkins had a decent rookie season after going undrafted out of Cincinnati in 2013, finishing the year with 32 receptions and four touchdowns in 12 games. But he had just nine receptions in the second half of the year, and was inactive for four games towards the end of the season. We’ll see if he can put together a complete season in his second year in the league.​


Sept 7, 2015:

Kenbrell Thompkins got caught in a roster riptide last season. Dropping him wasn’t something the Patriots wanted to do, but something they felt they had to do.​

Proof? The day after his Saturday release, Belichick said during the Patriots pregame show that "I enjoyed working with KT. Hope we get an opportunity to work with him in the future."​

That time has come around again as Thompkins has been re-signed to the Patriots practice squad.​

Thompkins got released at a time when the Patriots offense couldn’t be the Patriots offense because of protection problems up front. I would argue that Thompkins may be better than Aaron Dobson. Thompkins wasn’t a second-round pick, though. It will be interesting to see whether Thompkins can recreate some of the chemistry he built with Tom Brady in 2013.​



Kenbrell Thompkins played in 14 games with nine starts with the Patriots. He caught 38 of the 80 passes thrown his way, for 519 yards (13.7 ypc) and four touchdowns. Thompkins also played for the Raiders between his two stints with the Patriots, and later with the Jets. He played in a total of 33 NFL games, with 70 receptions for 893 yards and four TDs.

Kenbrell Thompkins, an undrafted rookie, turned out better than their first-round pick Aaron Shoulda Been Keenan Allen Dropson.

Thanks a lot Billy.
 


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