The Patriots’ 53-man roster and practice squad are mostly set. The players have their game plan for the season opener against the Eagles. The season starts in just over a week.
Still, questions abound about the 2023 Patriots.
Let’s answer them in our latest Patriots mailbag.
Whats Tyquans Injury? This is two years hes started on IR and honestly i feel he is going to get lost in the mix
All I’ve been told from a source is that Tyquan Thornton is dealing with a shoulder injury, and he’s not anticipated being out for long. The 2022 second-round pick has been around Gillette Stadium, so it doesn’t seem like anything overly major.
If the Patriots thought it was going to force him to miss the entire season, then he would have been placed on injured reserve during cutdowns rather than two days later. Players placed on injured reserve during cuts are out for the entire season. Players placed on injured reserve after 4 p.m. Wednesday can return after four games.
And I tend to agree that Thornton could wind up getting lost in the mix. Midway through training camp, it appeared rookie wide receiver Demario Douglas had passed Thornton on the depth chart. I asked a team source about it, and he said that Douglas had earned a promotion based on his play and that Thornton still had a lot to prove.
Thornton suffered his shoulder injury days later in a Patriots joint practice with the Packers, so make of that what you will. Thornton also missed four games last season with a broken collarbone and then caught 22 passes for 247 yards with two touchdowns in 13 games. He didn’t exactly set the league on fire as a rookie, but there were extenuating circumstances.
Thornton feels significantly behind JuJu Smith-Schuster, DeVante Parker and Kendrick Bourne, and Douglas is already back from a shoulder injury he suffered in the Patriots’ preseason game against the Packers.
So, unless there are wide receiver injuries in the interim, Thornton is going to be playing from behind when he is healthy. Thornton didn’t set himself apart during training camp and the preseason, and while it would be nice to get his 4.28-second 40-yard-dash speed on the field, Douglas also provides a speed element in his game, though it comes from the slot rather than outside.
A lot of people around the league were surprised when Thornton was selected in the second round last year. The Steelers drafted George Pickens two picks later in the 2022 NFL Draft. Pickens caught 52 passes for 801 yards with four touchdowns last season while playing with a rookie quarterback and a play-caller in Matt Canada who received only slightly less criticism than Matt Patricia. Pickens seemingly made a highlight reel catch in camp every week this summer. It will be interesting to follow those two players’ career trajectories.
For most of the preseason it seemed Douglas was the better of the two 6th rounders. Boutte’s made a lot of big plays happen as the summer’s gone on. Where do you think they slot into the WR depth chart overall?
Currently, the wide receiver depth chart appears to go: Smith-Schuster, Parker, Bourne, Douglas, Boutte. Thornton would probably fit in between Douglas and Boutte.
But where Thornton winds up on the depth chart is largely dependent on how Douglas, Boutte and the rest of the group play in the four games – at minimum – that he misses. If one of the top three wide receivers gets hurt – Parker is already missing time – then Thornton could move up. If the rookies struggle, then Thornton could move up that way, too. But if Douglas and Boutte look as good as advertised, then there’s no guarantee that Thornton would dress on game days when he returns.
If patriots were on hard knocks, what position group would you most be excited to see interact in the meetings etc?
I would have been fascinated to see the quarterback room this summer and the dynamic between Mac Jones and Bailey Zappe.
Who’s gonna play more this year Keion white or Marte Mapu?
I’ll gamble and say Mapu. There’s a path for him to be an every-down player in the defense. Beyond Ja’Whaun Bentley, no off-ball linebacker is guaranteed major snaps. The other off-ball linebackers on the team are Chris Board (a special-teamer), Jahlani Tavai (an early-down run stuffer) and Mack Wilson (benched last season).
Mapu brings a special skill set at 6-foot-3, 230 pounds. He’s played all over the defense in training camp and preseason.
White has more players blocking his playing time between Matthew Judon, Deatrich Wise, Josh Uche and Anfernee Jennings.
It feels like White has more of a guaranteed role as a situational edge defender whereas Mapu has the potential to see more snaps.
Who will be qb2 on active roster new guy or zappe?
To start the season, I would actually expect it to be Zappe via practice squad elevation over waiver claim Matt Corral, just because the Patriots have already started installing their game plan and the season starts in less than two weeks. But if things go well with Corral, then he would likely take over backup duties at some point. It’s still very early in the process, though, and there’s no guarantee how things will go for Corral on the Patriots. Claiming him comes with very little risk.
How do you see us ending the season Doug?
I’m on record saying they’re making the playoffs. So, in the postseason.
Can you please explain how a teams practice squad players are available to be signed by other teams . If someone wants a player off the Pats 16 man practice squad , is it an allowable transaction because said player fills a position on the other teams active roster ?
Yes, a team can sign a player off of another team’s practice squad onto their 53-man roster. The Patriots could block it by signing that player to their 53-man roster. A player can also choose to stay on a practice squad rather than getting signed off onto a 53-man roster.