It's been a dreadful two weeks for the New England Patriots. Following Sunday's 34-0 loss at home to the New Orleans Saints, it's safe to say that the offense has hit rock bottom. There are problems everywhere, from quarterback play to play calling from offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien.
But help is possibly on the way.
For the first time since the preseason, second-year wide receiver Tyquan Thornton was spotted on the practice field in pads. Given that both JuJu Smith-Schuster and Demario Douglas are in concussion protocol, it's no surprise that the Patriots have officially opened the 21-day window for Thornton to officially return.
Assuming Thornton plays on Sunday against the Las Vegas Raiders, how useful can he be?
Given that the offensive line doesn't give Mac Jones a lot of time to throw, can he be an effective receiver? Most importantly, can Thornton stay healthy for the remainder of the season?
Yes, Thornton can be useful. A short pass can go the distance with Thornton's breakaway speed. He also poses as a deep threat, assuming that Mac Jones has more than two seconds to throw the ball. But, given his speed and ability to get downfield, Thornton can be a popular target for Jones.
But can being useful translate to being an effective receiver?
Even if the Patriots' offense finds a way to move the ball with Thornton, how effective can the offense be around Thornton? The Patriots offense has found ways to stall each drive. Maybe Thornton is the missing piece for the offense to keep drives alive.
Lastly, there's his health. Thornton has been unable to stay healthy so far in his young career. His health has stunted his growth and development in the NFL. If Thornton can stay healthy, he can be used as another body for the defense to defend, and he's also a threat to make a play deep downfield.
The Patriots offense needs all the help it can get. Maybe help and a possible spark is on the way with the most likely return of Tyquan Thornton this weekend.