Why New England Patriots rookie Tyquan Thornton’s blazing 40-yard dash is a promising sign – Reuters Sports News


FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Thoughts and quick notes on the New England Patriots and the NFL:

1. Thornton’s Blazing Speed: Running the 40-yard dash at the NFL scouting combine is one of the ultimate solo pursuits for rookies looking to break into the league. All eyes are on them. No one is there to pick them up.

How former Baylor wide receiver and Patriots second-round pick Tyquan Thornton prepared for that defining moment – ​​in which he posted a blistering 4.28 seconds, the fastest of any receiver this year and the fourth-fastest of all receivers since 2006 — is a notable story that potentially bodes well for his transition to the pros.

Thornton planned to prepare in Texas but made a late move to XPE Sports in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., where he was part of a practice group with Baylor cornerback Kalon Barnes (seventh round, Panthers) and running back University of Texas-San Antonio cornerback Tariq Woolen (fifth round, Seahawks).

All three produced the fastest times at the combine this year – Thornton’s 4.28, Barnes at 4.23 and Woolen at 4.26.

“They kept pushing each other. It was a competition and it worked out well where they all killed it at the combine,” said Matt Gates of XPE, who trains prospects for the combine harvester since 2003.

Just as Thornton thrived on competition with Barnes and Woolen, the Patriots are banking on the same happening in a New England reception hall with DeVante Parker, Nelson Agholor, Kendrick Bourne and Jakobi Meyers.

Playing football is much more than running a 40-meter sprint, of course. So how well Thornton’s blistering speed is integrated into the Patriots’ overall system — and whether he can master a variety of routes — will be one of the biggest determinants of the team’s success.

Gates, who worked with the 6-foot-2, 181-pound Thornton for a 10-week period that began in early January, is optimistic.

“When we started pre-testing, I was like, ‘Man, we’ve got something here,'” he said. “Super smooth. Super explosive. And honestly, for a guy that fast, you don’t usually see someone who can change direction and catch the ball well. A lot of times you’ll see wide receivers straight ahead who can pop the top , but they can’t follow a route. Tyquan can do all of that – he’s got good hands, he’s smart, he takes things fast.

An example of how Thornton takes things back came at the start of the 10 weeks he spent training with Gates.

“His technique wasn’t great. Even though he had track experience, we just had to tighten up some things when he started and a few things along the way,” Gates said. “It clicked right away.”



Baylor QB Blake Shapen drops a dime to Tyquan Thornton, who makes a fantastic catch for a touchdown.

2. Preparation with heat: With the Patriots set to open the season in Miami, hydration and conditioning – always important – need to be emphasized all the more throughout training camp. Along those lines, the Patriots and Raiders plan to hold at least one of their joint August practices in Las Vegas outside, the other inside Allegiant Stadium. The weather in Las Vegas in August is often scorching, with peaks sometimes reaching triple digits.

3. Jedd’s guests? The Patriots could see an advantage in staying out West after their Week 14 game against the Cardinals, instead of heading home and then turning around for a Week 15 game on the road against the Raiders. Coach Bill Belichick has done that in the past, most recently with back-to-back road games in Los Angeles in 2020. If so, an extended stint at the University of Arizona – where the former Patriots quarterbacks coach Jedd Fisch is entering his second year. as a head coach – would make sense.

4. Rookie introductions: Offensive lineman Cole Strange and the rest of the Patriots’ 2022 rookie class were on the field for the first time Friday and Saturday at a mini rookie camp closed to the media, and they will now spend the majority of the offseason in town. as they transition to life among the pros. Draft class members were brought in two weeks ago for a brief introduction, and now the official onboarding process is underway and daily on-site work begins. Although still subject to change, May 26 is the first time members of the media will have access to the practice.

5. McDuffie & McCourty: University of Washington cornerback Trent McDuffie, who the Chiefs traded to the Patriots to pick 21st overall, was compared to longtime Patriots captain Devin McCourty by a scout considering his combination of on-court talents and off-court traits. While the Patriots were widely credited with receiving excellent value in their trade up to No. 29 — earning third- and fourth-round picks — the trade could ultimately be judged differently if McDuffie turns that McCourty comparison into reality.

6. Request of the Patriots: One of the notable nuggets from NFL Vice President of Broadcast Mike North was that the Patriots asked to play their games out West if possible, which ultimately tied to New England. get four consecutive prime time games. It’s a request other teams have made as well, with North noting that Atlanta, San Francisco, Miami and Las Vegas fall into that category.

7. Eyes on Watson: Any potential discipline that Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson faces from the NFL should be watched in New England when the Patriots travel to Cleveland in Week 6. As the Patriots face Arizona later in the season and won’t benefit from the absence of DeAndre Hopkins during his six-game suspension, there’s an element of uncertainty about whether they’ll see Watson.



Booger McFarland explains how Deshaun Watson fits into the Cleveland Browns after being traded.

8. Kraft Honor SBJ: A crowd of around 1,000 is expected at the Marriott Marquis Times Square on Wednesday night, when Patriots owner Robert Kraft joins esteemed company as he receives the Sports Business Journal Lifetime Achievement Award. Kraft should be introduced by Meek Mill. The award is given to leaders and trailblazers who have helped shape the dynamic sports industry, and past recipients include Dan Rooney, Jerry Jones and Paul Tagliabue, all of whom are members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. SBJ Publisher and Editor-in-Chief Abraham Madkour highlighted how Kraft’s background as a fan shaped his tenure of ownership of the Patriots.

9. Ekuale’s choice: Defensive lineman Daniel Ekuale was brought up from the Patriots’ practice squad seven times last season and provided some inside presence. Little-known story: He considered an opportunity to join the Bills for the playoffs, but instead opted to stay in New England on the practice squad. Ekuale will now compete for a spot on the roster at a position that includes returning starters Davon Godchaux and Lawrence Guy, as well as Christian Barmore, Byron Cowart, Carl Davis and sixth-round pick Sam Roberts.

10. Did you know: The Patriots visit the Vikings on Thanksgiving, marking the first time they’ve played a game over the holidays since 2012, and the sixth time overall:

  • Nov. 22, 1984 – Lost 20-17 to Dallas

  • Nov. 23, 2000 – Lost 34-9 to Detroit (Tom Brady’s NFL debut)

  • Nov. 28, 2002 – 20-12 win over Detroit

  • November 25, 2010 – 45-24 win over Detroit

  • Nov. 22, 2012 – 49-19 win over the New York Jets (Mark Sanchez butt fumble)


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