Patriots: Tyquan Thornton getting adjusted to life in the NFL

When the Patriots drafted speedy wide receiver Tyquan Thornton in April, most people around here didn’t know much about him.

The 40-time was really all people cared about, but once training camp started this week, fans expected to see this new fast car let loose out of the garage right away. That hasn’t been the case yet as Thornton has been pretty quiet while guys like DeVante Parker, Tre Nixon and even Lil’ Jordan Humphrey have made plays.

It’s important to remember that we may not see Thornton’s true abilities right away as he gets adjusted to life in the NFL and that’s okay – as long as those other guys on the depth chart continue to show they can be viable options for Mac Jones. If not, Thornton might have to get up to speed (pun intended) quicker than anticipated.

“I’m feeling good, feeling great, getting pretty comfortable just trying to get better each and every day,” Thornton said after the third training camp practice on Friday. “I’ve been learning a lot. I just learned more today from the guys. Great receiver room, guys bring a lot of energy, different skill sets, you know? A lot of guys in the room can play ball, so it’s very competitive.”

That competition is only going to help Thornton, but with so much scrutiny surrounding the Patriots when it comes to drafting receivers, there’s a good chance Thornton may hear it from the fans early on if he doesn’t produce as much as the other guys, or if he doesn’t show off that lightning speed. With all that being said, Bill Belichick has been stopping various receiver drills and teaching guys certain things about routes, so Thornton is getting some top notch coaching right from the get-go, something N’Keal Harry may not have necessarily gotten during his time here.

“We put a big emphasis on our details, so we’re critical on everything, every little step matters,” Thornton said.

So far, Thornton is taking the right approach and simply trying to be better today than he was yesterday. Ideally, that’ll add up to some pretty good football in the end.

“I’m just trying to get 1% better every day,” he said. “In 365 days, hopefully I’ll be 365% better, you know? You just take the coaching. Next rep just correct the mistakes.”

As far as the overall adjustment, it’s all about getting a routine down and sticking to it.

“Just building a routine, getting up early, going to take care of your body, it’s a day-to-day process, so you’ve got to be at your best every day,” Thornton said of adjusting to life in the NFL.

You certainly can’t teach the type of speed that Thornton has, but if he’s going to contribute as much as Patriots fans hope he will, finding a way to improve all the other areas of his game is going to be critical to his development.

“It’s pretty obvious that I’m fast, so now I’m just trying to fill in the other areas…strength, route running, contested catches and trying to become a full, complete receiver,” he said.

If you’ve followed the Pats over the last two decades, then you know Belichick loves a guy who can contribute on special teams in addition to his primary duties. Thornton is also taking his gunner opportunities seriously and making sure to take advantage of one of the most knowledgable veterans on the team.

“Yes, I have some experience playing special teams, but it’s an honor just to go out there,” said Thornton. “We’ve got Matthew Slater, one of the greatest to ever do it, so just taking reps at gunner behind him, him coaching us up in the meeting room…just taking notes and applying it to the field. It’s football at the end of the day. Run down field and tackle the guy with the ball, it’s the details that matter.”

Fans may not get the immediate impact they may have been hoping for from Thornton since the receiver room is currently quite crowded, but it’s clear he’s doing his best to learn on the fly and trying to make an impact wherever he can.