Phil Perry

Tyquan Thornton using healthy scratch in Miami as ‘fuel'

The 2022 second-rounder has just two catches for eight yards in two games played this season.

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FOXBORO -- Tyquan Thornton wasn't happy when he found out he'd be a healthy scratch against his hometown team last weekend. Now he's working toward making sure he's not in a similar situation this coming weekend against the Washington Commanders.

"Just continue to do what I was doing, man," he said when asked how he can change the trajectory of his season. "Just doing it a little better. Being more consistent. Using it as fuel, being inactive in my hometown Miami. That's something I [didn't] like. But it is what it is. Gotta keep rolling with the punches so this week's going to be a great one."

Thornton will have an opportunity for more moving forward now that the team will be without its top receiver for the remainder of the season. Kendrick Bourne tore his ACL in New England's Week 8 loss to the Dolphins, opening up snaps and targets for others. DeVante Parker also suffered a concussion in the game, meaning offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien will likely have to determine how to fill in behind his two most frequently used wideouts in Week 9.

Thornton, a second-round pick in 2022, could be part of the solution. 

"More focus," Thornton said when asked how he'll try to earn a larger role in practice. "Harder work. More consistency."

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The Patriots have been forced to function consistently without Thornton in the last two seasons.

He began each of his first two pro campaigns on injured reserve. He caught 22 passes for 247 yards and two touchdowns last year, playing in 13 games. This season, in two games, he has two catches for eight yards. In his most recent outing, he played three snaps in a win over the Bills.

Drafted as a speed merchant out of Baylor, he's seen one deep target this year that fell incomplete. A season ago, he was targeted 14 times at least 20 yards down the field and caught three for 74 yards. One target was dropped. One was picked. His quarterback rating when targeted deep as a rookie was 19.3. 

In his quest to get more playing time and rack up more production, Thornton will have to contend with others who may slot ahead of him on the depth chart. 

Demario "Pop" Douglas has established himself as a key piece to the passing game. JuJu Smith-Schuster was active against the Dolphins and entered when Bourne left injured. Jalen Reagor has split time with Parker on the outside of late, and Kayshon Boutte began the year as Parker's fill-in when Parker was banged up in Week 1. What awaits Thornton in Week 9 in beyond, then? 

His status in Miami was an indication that he has a ways to go before making good on the second-round investment the Patriots made in him. But, with injuries at the position, he now has a chance to improve his standing. 

"Just continue to play ball," he said. "Just ball. It's just ball at the end of the day. We all gotta step up. Guys got an opportunity to make plays. We just gotta take advantage of it."

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