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

Thornton suffered an undisclosed shoulder injury in August.

NFL: MAY 31 New England Patriots OTA Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The New England Patriots returned to the practice fields on Tuesday ahead of their Week 6 matchup against the Las Vegas Raiders, and they did so with wide receiver Tyquan Thornton.

Thornton suffered an undisclosed shoulder injury during the Patriots’ joint practices with the Green Bay Packers back in August. He had not practiced since and was placed on the injured reserve shortly after making the initial 53-man roster.

With Thornton now returning to practice, New England has up to three weeks to add him to the active roster.

The 2022 second-round pick started the season on IR for the second straight year after he suffered a collarbone injury last preseason. Thornton returned in Week 5 and played in New England’s remaining 13 games, posting 22 receptions for 247 yards and two touchdowns. He added another score on the ground.

“Like all the rookie players, it’s just better in year two,” Bill Belichick explained last week. “Better idea of what we’re doing, better idea of what it’s like to be an NFL player, better idea of how teams play different than college. So, Tyquan’s a smart kid, good participant in the offseason program, took in a lot, learned a lot. Looking forward to getting him back.”

The Patriots could now use Thornton’s ability on the field this season. Through five weeks, New England’s receivers have struggled against man coverage and have lacked explosiveness. Thornton and his 4.28 speed can hopefully help in those areas while potentially opening things up for others as well.

“Tyquan, obviously, we have a lot of reps together in the offseason,” Mac Jones added last week. “He works really hard. You obviously love to have a guy like that out there and we have plenty of guys out there that can make play. Happy to have him back hopefully soon.”

New England’s active roster currently includes five wide receivers in DeVante Parker, Kendrick Bourne, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Demario Douglas, and Kayshon Boutte. However, both Smith-Schuster and Douglas left Sunday’s game against New Orleans with head injuries and were missing from Tuesday’s session.