With Nelson Agholor (hamstring) out of Sunday’s contest and Kendrick Bourne quickly departing with a toe injury, the Patriots needed some production from rookie wide receiver Tyquan Thornton on Sunday. And that’s exactly what he gave them.
In just his second career game, Thornton hauled in four passes and his first career score. The speedster also added a second touchdown of the day on a jet sweep in the fourth quarter to help put the nail in the Cleveland Browns’ coffin.
In the process, Thornton became the Patriots first rookie wide receiver to record both a receiving in rushing touchdown in the same game since Irving Fryar in 1985.
“He’s really fast,” captain David Andrews said postgame. “Does a good job, worked hard - obviously had the [collarbone] earlier in the year. Good player.”
While it may not have been a breakout game in the score sheet for Thornton, his skillset is evident when he steps on the field. His game changing speed draws extra attention from opposing defenses and his first touchdown was a prime example of his shiftiness, as he quickly lost two defenders at the goal line.
.@Humble_Ty19's first NFL touchdown!— New England Patriots (@Patriots) October 16, 2022
: #NEvsCLE on @NFLonCBS pic.twitter.com/2ftKMF2tGu
The two-touchdown performance was important to Thornton, as tight end Jonnu Smith revealed the receiver was dealing with difficult personal things off the field.
“Tyquan, that’s my guy,” Smith said. “That’s my young guy. We’ve got a good relationship. He’s been battling some personal things. I don’t want to get too much into it, but me myself, I’ve experienced the exact same thing that he’s going through right now. For him to come out and put on a performance like he did today, it just speaks volumes about that kid. I know when I was going through it it was tough.
“To see him have a smile on his face. To see him go out there and make plays and play free, that speaks volumes, man. Guys like that, those are the kinda guys we want around us. Guys that fight through adversity. Guys that put their hard hat on and take the challenges on head on.”
Neither Smith nor the receiver revealed what exactly he was dealing with, but Thornton shared an Instagram story with a broken heart pregame.
Jonnu Smith on Tyquan Thornton: "He's been battling some personal things. ... For him to come out here and have the performance he had today, it speaks volumes about the kid."— Dakota Randall (@DakRandallNESN) October 16, 2022
Don't know any specifics, but Thornton's IG story indicated the death of a friend/loved one pic.twitter.com/RPfniEiZz7