Some news and notes from this morning:
Second-year receiver Tyquan Thornton has spent most of this offseason working on his strength and bulking up a bit since the end of last season, but his speed remained front-and-center this week.
Granted, the workout was held in shorts without the same contact, but it doesn’t change the fact that Thornton does appear to have made strides this offseason while remaining a speedy threat in New England’s offense.
He didn’t see as much as action as they probably would have liked last season. After suffering a fractured collarbone in the preseason, Thornton’s season got off to a slow start.
His first regular-season action of 2022 didn’t come until Week 5 against Detroit, where he played in 42% of the snaps while catching just 2 passes on 3 targets for 7-yards.
However his workload gradually increased late in the season. He saw more action in four of the final five regular season games, averaging just over 90% of the snaps over that span.
He finished 2022 with 22 receptions for 247-yards and 2 touchdowns.
Thornton said this week that he’s already a little more comfortable heading into his second season.
“I can say the game’s slowed down just a little bit,” said Thornton. “But still, just trying to learn more of the game, studying film and learning the defense better.”
The former Baylor product also added that working with new offensive coordinator, Bill O’Brien, appears to be going well so far.
“It’s been amazing,” said Thornton of working with his new coordinator. “We’ve been getting better each and every day, and that’s what we’re working towards.”
Rookie Ryland Shined This Week
While the Patriots have an accurate placekicker in Nick Folk, the club clearly decided to try and make another attempt to solidify the future of that position when they selected Maryland’s Chad Ryland last month.
And so far, he appears to be off to a good start.
According to reports, Ryland was impressive during the team’s open media session this week. The rookie reportedly showed some terrific accuracy from various distances, with Ryland hitting most of his attempts on Thursday.
Folk was among players not present this week, with the sessions also being voluntary for veteran players. He’s currently in the final year of the 2-year, $5 million deal he signed ahead of last season.
Ryland will have to beat out Folk for the job, with the consistent veteran likely ready to try and stave off yet another young kicker vying for the role. However, given the club’s need to also have a kicker with a stronger leg for kickoffs, the door may be closing for Folk, who has struggled in that part of his game.
The Boston Globe’s Ben Volin caught up with Maryland’s special teams coordinator, James Thomas, who has already seen Ryland step up in big moments, including a huge game against Michigan.
“He outkicked [Michigan kicker Jake] Moody,” Thomas said. “We were about to go for it [on fourth down], and Michigan called a timeout, and [coach Mike Locksley] said, ‘Well, this is why we brought the kid in here.’ He looked at Chad, ‘You good?’ And Chad said, ‘[expletive] yeah,’ went out there and, boom, nailed a 53-yard kick.
“He was money, man. He was automatic.”
Hopefully, that success will carry over for him now that he’s in the NFL.
Patriots Talked to Washington On Draft Day
NESN’s Zack Cox spotted an interesting moment that the Washington Commanders shared on Friday, with the Commanders apparently reaching out to the Patriots on draft day looking to move up to the #16 spot overall.
In the video, Commanders general manager Martin Mayhew placed a call to Patriots Personnel executive Eliot Wolf, looking to make a deal to move up. Wolf then asked for Washington’s third-round pick in return, which Mayhew rejected. He instead said he might be willing to give up a fourth, but wasn’t willing to part with a 3rd round pick.
Wolf then offered to include an additional sixth-rounder in the deal, but Washington still rejected the offer.
As a result, the Commanders ultimately stayed put and selected cornerback Emmanual Forbes out of Mississippi State, while New England would go on to take Oregon’s Christian Gonzalez.
Curran: Patriots Already Ahead of Last Year
NBC Sports Boston’s Tom Curran appeared on Jones, Mego & Arcand on WEEI on Thursday and one thing he pointed out was the fact that the team already appears far ahead of where they were at this time last year.
Curran made a solid point that the last couple of years, there’s been instability, whether it’s been with the quarterback situation or with the coaching, and this is the first time in quite a while where it appears the club is getting an earlier start at building its foundation.
“They know what they’re trying to do in May, and June and when they come back in July, there’s a plan in place and you understand who the christened quarterback is,” said Curran. “Which, to me, when you look at it, we’ve had so much Bailey Zappe conversation as to Bill not anointing Mac Jones publicly, but there is no way in God’s green earth that there’s going to be any kind of a quarterback competition unless Mac starts lining up under the tackle on a regular basis. I mean, you can’t have it.”
Curran said that what they saw this week, albeit it was just one practice, was a positive sign, which already should have people feeling a little better about things heading into this upcoming 2023 season.
“You’ve got a structure, you’ve got a quarterback, you have an offensive coordinator,” said Curran. “You have what we saw yesterday, which was an organized, cogent, crisp practice, maximize that. Go through the summer and see how good you can be in September instead of having a fleet of questions to answer.”
Wishing Mark Morse Well
One quick note, our own Mark Morse, who is well-known in the Patriots tailgating community and among our close-knit group of fans going back many years, has been battling some health issues recently.
I definitely wanted to take a moment to wish him the best and if you have a second, please be sure to go to the entry he posted this morning and drop him a quick “get well” note in the comments, as he’s still recovering after a tough few weeks where he required some medical attention.
Best wishes to Mark on a speedy recovery. He’s one of the best, and certainly hope he continues making some positive strides in the coming weeks.
Posted Under: Patriots News