New England Patriots wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins makes a reception during minicamp at the practice fields of Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

New England Patriots News: Jake Ballard, Kenbrell Thompkins

The New England Patriots decided to place four players on the active/PUP list to start training camp, and one of those players is tight end Jake Ballard, who is expected to partially replace Rob Gronkowsi’s production (also placed on the active/PUP) if he misses game time. Ballard was able to participate in most offseason workouts in OTAs and minicamp, but the Boston Globe reported that he looked “rigid”, and we now have another report that is more critical of Ballard’s return to form.

CSNNE’s Tom E. Curran took a look at some training camp battles for the New England Patriots, and he highlighted Jake Ballard vs. Daniel Fells as one of them. According to Curran, Ballard wasn’t back to full strength this offseason (something we’ve also heard in reports from the Globe and the USA Today), and he added that Ballard “slogged through some routes” and was not a full participate in workouts either.

I am confident that Jake Ballard will return to full health at some point before the regular season, and I believe this slow recovery says more about how hard it is to come back from microfracture surgery than anything else. Ballard, though, wasn’t exactly fast or athletic before the injury, so we’ll see how he plays in his return from it.

On Sunday in his quick-hit column, Mike Reiss wrote that the New England Patriots decision to release Donald Jones was related to undrafted free agent Kenbrell Thompkins’s explosion in OTAs and minicamp. Th0mpkins was a surprise and has turned into a sleeper to make the roster and an impact as rookie. The Patriots signed several sleeper UDFAs, and Thompkins is the one that seems to be gaining the most steam. Jones was set to receive a $200,000 bonus for showing up to training camp, and the Patriots decided they wanted to give those reps to the rookies anyway. It’s a vote of confidence for the rookies, and it is a huge vote of confidence to Thompkins, whose play partially led to the release of a wide receiver that caught 41 passes last season.

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Tags: Donald Jones Jake Ballard Kenbrell Thompkins New England Patriots NFL Offseason

  • Paul V. Suffriti

    Youth and depth at the WR position may become a valuable asset as the offense begins to find it’s identity during camp and preseason. A one TE, three WR formation may become more common at the beginning of the season depending on injuries and availability at the TE position.

    • Joe Soriano

      My belief regarding the WR position has always been that the situation isn’t “bad”, even though some national media sites like to portray it like that. Things will be rough at the beginning and there was a lot of turnover, but there is talent, depth, and upside here. The issue is that there is a lot of uncertainty regarding these young players and how/if they will pan out, but the Pats seem confident in these guys and I do too. Chances are one of the rookies will pan out as the season wears on, Amendola is going to be solid, Gronk won’t be out for long, Ballard should be solid, and Edelman will be good if healthy. The Patriots just need to take advantage of some of the depth they have and develop their youth. There will be some growing pains, but people exaggerate the WR concerns.