Rookie watch: Tyquan Thornton redeems himself in Patriots win
By Fran Brown
There were high hopes for Tyquan Thornton after the Patriots drafted him in the second round, as fans thought he could be a deep threat for Mac Jones and the offense. However, an injury in training camp delayed his debut until October, and when he did return, the offense was in such disarray that opportunities for Thornton to make an impact were limited. The coaching staff has underutilized Thornton’s speed, while the porous offensive line has made it difficult for Jones to have enough time to throw it deep. That changed for one play last week against Cincinnati but Thornton was unable to reel in the deep ball, giving him a poor grade in this space.
With the Patriots needing a win against the Dolphins to stay alive in the AFC playoff picture, Thornton returned and totally redeemed himself with arguably the best performance of his rookie season. Here’s how he and the rest of the rookies performed in the win.
Tyquan Thornton, A
Thornton was the Patriots leading receiver in this game, posting a career-high 60 yards on three receptions. Two of those grabs came on the game’s opening possession as the Patriots drove down the field to take a quick lead, something they’ve struggled to do in recent weeks. First, there was a long pass down the sideline where Thornton was able to get both feet inbounds for a key first down. Then, he ended the drive with this touchdown:
Cole Strange, B-
Strange was good but not great in this game. Mac Jones was sacked three times, but none of those were on Strange, as he continues to be pretty good in pass protection.
However, the Patriots’ ground game could never really get going in this one, as they only ran for 77 yards on 21 carries, a 3.6-yard average.
Pierre Strong, B-
With the return of Damien Harris, Strong lost his spot contributing on offense as he did not see any offensive snaps. He did, however, fill in for Marcus Jones in the kicking game and returned one kick for 21 yards.
DaMarcus Mitchell, C
Another week without any stats from Mitchell, as the kick coverage unit struggled on Sunday, giving up 26.3 yards per kick return.
Brenden Schooler, D
Every week something goes awry on special teams, and this week, it was Schooler committing an awful running into the punter penalty. The Dolphins had just jumped to create a 4th and six before Schooler committed the penalty. Now with a 4th and one, Miami picked up the first down before driving down the field for a touchdown.
Incomplete: Bailey Zappe, Quandre Mosely
Inactive: Marcus Jones, Kevin Harris, Sam Roberts, Jack Jones (placed on IR)