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Thursday Patriots Notebook 8/31: News and Notes

Ian Logue
Ian Logue on Twitter
3 weeks ago at 11:21 am ET
Posted Under: Patriots News

Thursday Patriots Notebook 8/31: News and NotesChristopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Here are some news and notes for this Thursday morning:

Smith-Schuster Shoots Down Report

The MMQB’s Albert Breer appeared on NBC Sports Boston earlier in the week ahead of roster cutdowns discussing a variety of topics, including a comment on the state of JuJu Smith-Schuster’s knee that has seemingly had people talking this week.

During Breer’s appearance where they talked about the upcoming roster cutdowns, Breer made a comment about Smith-Schuster’s health that was certainly a little concerning.

“The underrated story here: JuJu Smith Schuster’s knee is a mess, and that thing could explode at any point,” Breer said via Darren Hartwell of NBC Sports Boston. “So, you almost have to keep an extra receiver because of that.”

Given his relationships with coaches, players, and GM’s around the league as he’s grown into his role since taking over for Peter King, Breer doesn’t tend to make outlandish statements without some knowledge behind it, which is what made his comment so interesting.

To go along with it, there had also been talk from other members within the media about some concern with Smith-Schuster’s knee earlier in the preseason, which is what also added some context to Breer’s statement.

Apparently, reporters were finally able to ask Smith-Schuster about it on Wednesday.  The veteran downplayed any issue with his knee, saying that he’s been relatively fine since the surgery he underwent after the Super Bowl.

“I don’t think my knee is a ticking time bomb,” Smith-Schuster told’s Karen Guregian about his knee. “If anything, it’s something that’s getting stronger every day.”

However, Smith-Schuster did say that he experienced swelling following a six-hour flight to Japan, but he went on to add that for now, “It feels great,” noting that he hadn’t missed a practice since training camp started.

The former Chiefs receiver was also active during the club’s second exhibition contest against the Packers, catching a short pass for one yard after playing 16 snaps.

He also took part in practice the following week and was out there participating in warm-ups ahead of the finale in Tennessee. Like the other starters, he watched from the sidelines as the club finished out the preseason with a 23-7 loss to the Titans.

As for any long flights, the Patriots don’t have one of those until Week 4 when they head to Dallas (approx 4hrs), followed by a trip to Las Vegas two weeks later on October 15th (approx 6hrs).

Their longest flight of the season will be their trip to Germany in Week 10 when they face the Colts, with that flight coming in at around nine hours.

Hopefully, by then, it will be even more of a non-issue.

Thornton Placed on IR

As expected, second-year wide receiver Tyquan Thornton is headed to injured reserve, which is where he’ll again start the year to begin 2023.  He’ll be available to return after Week 4.

ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler and Mike Reiss each reported on Thornton following roster cutdowns on Wednesday, which marks the second-straight training camp where the former Baylor receiver suffered an injury in preseason that will keep him out to begin the year.

Thornton went down with a shoulder injury a couple of weeks ago after laying out for what ended up being a beautiful 45-yard reception from Mac Jones during joint practices against the Packers out in Green Bay.  He left the field at that point, and it’s now caused him to deal with another setback.

Last year, Thornton suffered a fractured collarbone against the Panthers last preseason, with the then-rookie hauling in a 13-yard pass from quarterback Brian Hoyer.

On the play, Thornton tried to fight for extra yardage but was driven into the ground by Carolina linebacker Brandon Smith, with the report coming out a couple of days later.

With Thornton sidelined, the Patriots currently have Smith-Schuster, DeVante Parker, Kendrick Bourne, along with rookies Demario Douglas and Kayshon Boutte to round out their receiving corps ahead of the opener against the Eagles.

Who is on the Patriots Practice Squad?

Following the club paring down its roster in order to get down to the 53-man roster limit, the Patriots brought many of them back on Wednesday.

Among them were quarterbacks Bailey Zappe and Malik Cunningham, who were each waived on Tuesday.  Zappe’s name was the biggest surprise since, had he not returned, the club wouldn’t have had an option to back up Mac Jones heading into the season.

Instead, despite apparently receiving interest from other teams after he cleared waivers, Zappe returned and the club also has Cunningham back in the fold.  So it’s business as usual until something changes.

Otherwise, here’s a look at the 15 players they have so far:

TE Matt Sokol
TE Pharaoh Brown
OL James Ferentz
OL Kody Russey
OL Andrew Stueber
QB Bailey Zappe
QB/WR Malik Cunningham
WR Thyrick Pitts
RB Kevin Harris
RB Ty Montgomery

LB Calvin Munson
LB Joe Giles-Harris
LB Ronnie Perkins
S Joshuah Bledsoe

Special Teams
P Corliss Waitman

This is obviously subject to change, but these are the names who will start things off for the club heading into the 2023 season.

A couple of quick notes, one of the 2022 Patriots Draft Picks has gone to a division rival after turning down a chance to be on the club’s practice squad.

2022 sixth-round selection Chasen Hines elected to join the Miami Dolphins instead of returning to New England, while veteran Bill Murray, who received a fair amount of praise from Bill Belichick this offseason, has signed with the Bears.

Posted Under: Patriots News
Tags: Bailey Zappe JuJu Smith-Schuster Malik Cunningham Tyquan Thornton

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