Curran: Tyquan Thornton has same trait as two Patriots greats originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
New England Patriots rookie Tyquan Thornton made a strong first impression in Thursday night's preseason opener.
The second-round wide receiver found the end zone for his first time as a pro at the end of the first quarter. Shortly before his touchdown, he blew by his defender and nearly connected with quarterback Brian Hoyer on a deep ball down the sideline.
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Thornton only had two receptions for nine yards, but he still provided a glimpse at his exciting skill set. Our Tom E. Curran went as far as to compare his game to two of the greatest wideouts in Patriots history: Troy Brown and Julian Edelman.
"What's cool about him I think is the fact that he has absurd speed, Bethel Johnson-like speed, but he doesn't use it immediately," Curran said on Postgame Live. "He changes pace, as you saw with that little hop-step start that reminds me a lot of Troy Brown. That's how Troy started every single route. A little hop. Same with Edelman.
"If you can employ that and also accelerate at a ridiculous clip -- it seems to be that his first 10 yards are just electric. That's going to be a problem. If you have him in a short motion and he just takes a left and goes up the field, you can't press him, how many people have to pay attention to that guy?"
Former Patriots linebacker Ted Johnson also came away impressed with Thornton, who now dons Edelman's No. 11.
"We saw some things tonight besides the straight-line speed, which we know he can go fast straight," Johnson said. "It's how can he work in small spaces? His juke ability. His ability to disengage from the coverage and get separation, can he do that?
"I've seen him do that a lot in training camp, and he's known for his straight-line speed, but he's got quickness. He's got ability to explode and get away from the defender out of his brace and get separation, which is the key to any good wide receiver in this league."
Obviously, it's far too early to start comparing Thornton's ability to that of Brown or Edelman. Given Bill Belichick's success rate with drafting wide receivers, we should pump the brakes on hyping him up too much before seeing him in a regular-season game. That said, it's always a good sign when your style of play has striking similarities to two Patriots greats.
Thornton should get another chance to shine in next week's Patriots preseason matchup with the Carolina Panthers. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. ET Friday at Gillette Stadium.