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Patriots second-round rookie Tyquan Thornton wants to be more than just a fast guy

Related: Patriots training camp notebook: Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry have an impressive day

New England Patriots Practice Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Tyquan Thornton was neither the biggest nor the strongest wide receiver in this year’s draft. He also was not the most productive, or the one with the most polished résumé.

What he was, however, was the fastest. Running a 4.28-second 40-yard dash at the Scouting Combine, the Baylor product out-sprinted every other player at his position and continued climbing up draft boards. He eventually was picked 50th overall by the New England Patriots.

His rare speed was a big reason why Thornton went in the second round, but the man himself wants to be more than just a fast guy. Instead, he has his sights set on becoming a well-rounded member of the Patriots’ receiving corps.

“I mean, it’s pretty obvious that I’m fast,” Thornton told reporters after Friday’s training camp practice. “Now I’m just trying to fill in all the other areas — strength, route-running, contested catches — and to become a full, complete receiver.”

Thus far in camp, Thornton has seen his fair share of opportunities to prove he can be more than just a field-stretcher. The Patriots, after all, placed a heavy emphasis on red zone work early on which in turn forced their second-round pick to work more horizontally rather than just run by defensive backs on his way to deep gains.

While most of his reps have come with the scout team offense led by backups Brian Hoyer and Bailey Zappe, Thornton is gaining some valuable experience. By doing so he is also making a positive impression on other members of New England’s wide receiver corps.

Fourth-year man Jakobi Meyers, for example, already sees a player who offers a lot more than potentially game-breaking speed.

“He’s elusive, too,” Meyers said when talking about his young teammate on Friday. “A lot of people don’t realize how quick he is in and out of his breaks. I feel like Tyquan will have a good career in the league, and I’ll be excited watching him play every day. ...

“The thing about Tyquan, you can tell he’s happy to learn. All the time he comes up to me and is just like, ‘Watch my route here. Watch me do this.’ Watching him and just seeing him become better, just from OTAs to now, honestly, he’s been a better player already. I like seeing him go out there.”

Thornton’s willingness to learn and help the Patriots extends beyond his abilities as a wide receiver, though. He also has seen regular action as part of New England’s special teams operation during spring workouts and early on in training camp.

Playing in the game’s third phase is nothing new for him. Doing it at the pro level, however, is something else entirely.

“I had some experience playing special teams, but it’s an honor just to go out there,” he said. “We’ve got Matthew Slater, one of the very best to ever do it. Just taking reps behind him at gunner, him coaching us up in the meeting room. Just taking notes and trying to apply them to the field.”

As far as his particular role as a gunner on the punt coverage unit is concerned, Thornton has a rather relaxed mindset.

“It’s football at the end of the day,” he said. “Run down, go tackle the guy with the ball. It’s not really that hard, but it’s smart details that matter.”

While the tackling aspect of the job might need some refinement, the running should not be a problem for Thornton — something that is also true about his role on offense, no matter how much it will eventually entail.