FOXBOROUGH — Tyquan Thornton is always fast, but this season, starting fast is important, too.
The speedy second-round pick began last season on injured reserve after breaking his collarbone over the summer and struggled to find a rhythm as a rookie. At New England’s first open OTA on Wednesday morning, Thornton was ready to go at the start of his second season.
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New England’s most explosive receiver at the practice, Thornton caught a deep ball from Mac Jones early in the session, and created a ton of separation with a sharp cut on an intermediate route later. He looked strong all over the field.
The Patriots are only in tee shirts and shorts right now — a real test for Thornton will be dealing with press coverage when training camp ramps up — but it was encouraging to see him making plays early. Listed at 182 pounds as a rookie, the 6-foot-2 receiver said he’s been hitting the weight room this offseason.
“Definitely was a big emphasis just getting generally stronger, so I could be able to play out there a full season,” he said.
Thornton also said he gained weight, but wouldn’t disclose how much.
“I won’t go into detail about that,” he said.
While Thornton didn’t want to dive into any individual progress, his quarterback was willing to speak in detail about him, saying the wide receiver is bound to be “a great player for a long time.”
“I think Tyquan, he’s done a really good job just trying to be consistent,” Mac Jones said. “I got a chance to work with him in the offseason, like a lot of the guys, and for me and him, it’s all about communication. I think he has to grow and learn with me, and all the other guys, too. We’re all in the same boat together. But what you see, is exactly what you’re going to get: he’s fast, he’s a smart football player, he’s got strong hands. I really think it’s him just continuing to grow that confidence, just like we’re all working for. He’s going to be a great player for a long time.”