The New England Patriots “Stock Watch” pieces will take a look at players who are trending “up” or “down” following another day’s work of training camp, based on observations from beat writers and from friends who are at training camp.
WR Kenbrell Thompkins
Nobody has gained as much buzz during the last two days of training camp than Kenbrell Thompkins, and the buzz is definitely well- deserved following yesterday’s performance at training camp. There’s just something about Thompkins that makes you believe he has that “it” factor, and I have him penciled in as the No. 5 receiver for this team. Aqib Talib praised Thompkins for his ability to release off of the line of scrimmage, and Thompkins impressed with his ball skills and quickness on Sunday. Thompkins clearly outplayed veteran Michael Jenkins, who is his closest competition for a roster spot, and Thompkins is rewarding the Patriots apparent confidence in him following the release of Donald Jones.
CB Aqib Talib
I’ve been critical of some of the praise given to Aqib Talib during the regular season, as I believe he was given too much direct credit for the Patriots improvement on pass defense. Although I believe Talib is a bit burn prone and I want to see him become more of a consistent player, there is no denying Talib’s talent. Thus, I view Talib has a player who will have a big year and turn me into somebody who believes he should get plenty of credit if he is motivated. On a one-year, “prove it” deal, Talib’s motivation seems to be there. He once again said all that right things at training camp, and he also earned one of the Patriots offseason awards. More importantly, Patriots.com’s Erik Scalavino praised Talib’s ability to stick with quick slot receiver Danny Amendola, and Scalavino praised Talib’s quickness overall. Talib has always been better against possession receivers than deep threats, and he’s the Patriots answer against the Andre Johnson’s of the world.
WR Josh Boyce
CBS’s Pat Kirwan praised the New England Patriots rookie wide receivers, and the Patriots goal was to up their reps after releasing Jones. It also seemed like they were high on them after making that release, and Josh Boyce and Kenbrell Thompkins are busy making them look good. Aaron Dobson was reportedly solid at camp, but it looks like Thompkins and Boyce were the two standouts among rookie WRs. NESN’s Doug Kyed praised Boyce’s footwork and route-running, and those are two traits that have always been highly rated regarding Boyce. He’s the smartest wide receiver to come into Foxboro since Deion Branch, and he is fast and versatile. Boyce’s numbers at TCU didn’t do him justice, and the highlight of his day at camp on Sunday was a perfect leaping catch over fellow rookie Logan Ryan. It’s great to hear that the young receivers on the roster are standing out, and that has to ease some concerns as we head into August.
Veteran Daniel Fells looked solid in training camp, and he will make the roster if Rob Gronkowski is placed on the PUP list. But since I don’t deal with the “What If?” game on the injury front, I have Fells off of my final roster in order to make room for five running backs. Fells was a tough cut, though, and I’ve long been a fan of him as an underrated player and an excellent run blocker. Michael Hoomanawanui looked even better than Fells did as a pass-catcher, and undrafted rookie Zach Sudfeld was, per Kyed, clearly the fastest tight end among the guys on the field. That youth, upside, and quickness should give Sudfeld a roster spot, and it’s actually hard for me to envision him getting cut.
G/T Marcus Cannon
Just as Kenbrell Thompkins gained some momentum over Michael Jenkins yesterday, Marcus Cannon gained momentum over incumbent right guard Dan Connolly, who hasn’t been cleared for contact. Cannon looked excellent in one-on-one drills, and he has a great chance of beating out Connolly for the starting gig. Cannon’s versatility is a big boon to the Patriots offensive line, and he looks like a guy the Patriots were rightfully high on coming into camp. Bill Belichick has praised Cannon a few times this offseason, and it looks like that praise has been backed up by some strong play at camp.