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Tyquan Thornton returns to Patriots practice, opening 21-day activation window

Related: Patriots tight end Jonnu Smith considered week-to-week after suffering ankle injury against Packers

NFL: AUG 17 Patriots Panthers Joint-Practice Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

As the New England Patriots took the practice field on Wednesday, rookie wide receiver Tyquan Thornton joined them for the first time this season. He did so in a red non-contact jersey.

Thornton suffered a collarbone injury in the Patriots’ second preseason contest and was reportedly given an initial recovering window of 6-8 weeks. After being placed on injured reserve Week 1 of the regular season, this week marked the four week window which opened the door for him to be activated.

Now that he has returned to practice, New England has up to three weeks to add him to the active roster.

Despite not seeing the field since the injury, the rookie has continued to work behind the scenes. Speaking with reporters on Tuesday, assistant wide receiver coach Ross Douglas praised Thornton for his dedication while recovering.

“One thing about Tyquan, ever since he got hurt against Carolina and he had the collarbone injury, he’s been locked in,” Douglas said. “He’s been dedicated to his rehab process. So even though he hasn't been able to do a lot of things physically, he’s been on top of the mental part of the game. He’s meeting with us early in the morning and staying on top of his assignments and watching tape from wide receivers around the league, just how he can improve his game.”

As Monday marked the six week point from Thornton’s surgery, he still is on the early side of his recovery process. While it’s a positive side he has returned to the practice field, Douglass would not say if Thornton is ready to return to the field.

“Physically, when will he be ready? It just all depends on how he responds to his rehab, and we’ll kind of see where he’s at moving forward,” Douglas explained.

The 2022 second-round pick impressed throughout training camp. While entering the league as a known speedster, Thornton’s route running and ability to separate stood out. When he does return, he will join a crowded wide receiver room which will make his usage an interesting storyline to watch.

“Tyquan really came into a good situation because you have so many guys in that room who have played a lot of football, a lot of years in the league,” Douglas told reporters on Tuesday. “They've been successful, they've produced a whole lot.

“He’s truly fortunate to be able to develop behind those guys and really, truly learn from them. It’s a very ideal circumstance for him to contribute his development as a young player.”