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New Patriots receiver Tyquan Thornton has blazing speed, small wrists, and a plan to bulk up

Second-round draft pick Tyquan Thornton grabbed some passes at Tuesday's OTA session in Foxborough.Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

FOXBOROUGH — The requests have come to a screeching halt.

Because of his blistering speed, Tyquan Thornton used to get asked to race all the time as challengers wanted to measure up to the receiver.

Then the former Baylor star scorched the field at the NFL Combine with a 4.28 in the 40-yard dash, and his phone stopped pinging as much.

“A lot of guys asked to race, but not after that 4.2,” the Patriots rookie said with a huge smile Tuesday just after the club wrapped up a subdued OTA session that last just over an hour.

Thornton’s combine time isn’t the only measurable that has drawn attention. His wrists were measured at 6⅛ inches, the smallest of all the participants in Indianapolis.


Tyquan Thornton is anxious to start his rookie season with the Patriots.Steven Senne/Associated Press

When asked about his wrists, Thornton held up his arms and seemed perplexed by the hubbub.

“Skinny wrists? I mean, what are you using for your wrists for?” he said through a muffled chuckle. “That was new to me.”

Thornton’s size — he is listed at 6 feet 2 inches and a generous 182 pounds — has never prevented him from excelling on the football field. In 42 games at Baylor, he collected 143 catches for 2,242 yards and 19 touchdowns.

Thornton will need to bulk up to withstand the rigors of NFL life, where winning 50-50 balls is imperative. He acknowledged that gaining some weight is on the offseason itinerary.

“It’s a process coming in every day,” he said. “Just trying to work and get better, making strides every day.”

He doesn’t envision himself transforming his body too much, however.

“Just staying true to myself,” he said of his new caloric intake. “Always look at myself in the mirror. You know, this is my body type. This is my frame. I don’t see myself being 225 pounds. Been thin all my life.


“Just getting stronger in the weight room, building my muscles so I can have that fast twitch.”

Some other observations from the low-key session:

▪ There was an emphasis on conditioning, with a heavy set of wind sprints and suicides of varying lengths. There was a group on each of the two upper fields, while veterans Devin McCourty, Matthew Slater, Nick Folk, Brian Hoyer, and Cody Davis did their work together between the fields.

▪ Those not spotted included receiver N’Keal Harry; running back James White; offensive linemen Trent Brown, Isaiah Wynn, Chasen Hines, and Andrew Stueber; linebackers Matthew Judon and Anfernee Jennings; defensive tackles Davon Godchaux and Byron Cowart; and kicker Quinn Nordin.

▪ Safeties Jabril Peppers and Brenden Schooler, linebacker Raekwon McMillan, defensive lineman DaMarcus Mitchell, tight end Dalton Keene, and long snapper Joe Cardona likely would have been classified as “limited” had this been a regular-season practice.

▪ The offensive and defensive players worked separately, even during 11-on-11 drills, which had more of a walk-through/instructional feel. Several staffers donned yellow pinnies and acted as faux defenders during the offensive work. Even Bill Belichick and assistants Ross Douglas, Troy Brown, and Nick Caley jumped into the drills.

▪ Joe Judge tutored rookie quarterback Bailey Zappe during and after several drills. The kid has a live arm.

▪ With Wynn and Brown out, Yodny Cajuste worked at left tackle and Justin Herron at right tackle.


▪ First-round pick Cole Strange continued to work at left guard and said he’s comfortable there or anywhere on the offensive line.

▪ Backup long snapper Ross Reiter received a long blocking tutorial from special teams coordinator Cam Achord.

▪ When asked if he believed linebacker Josh Uche had the ability to play inside and out, similar to the way Dont’a Hightower has been used, Belichick bristled.

“It’s a stretch to compare almost anyone to Hightower,” he said. “You’re talking about one of the best linebackers that’s ever played here.”

Belichick declined to discuss Hightower’s future; he remains an unrestricted free agent.

▪ Belichick offered his support to the Celtics in the NBA Finals and to Danny Woodhead, the former Patriots running back who is attempting to qualify for the US Open at The Country Club in Brookline.

The coach praised the Celtics defense, saying “They’re tough, they hustle, and play smart basketball. Pleasure to watch. Fun to watch.”

Asked if he had given any pointers to Woodhead on the TCC course, the coach smiled and said, “No, just pulling for him. If he’s relying on me, he’s in a lot of trouble.”

▪ Running backs coach Ivan Fears observed practice from the side bleachers.

▪ Team owner Robert Kraft watched practice with director of player personnel Matt Groh, with director of scouting Eliot Wolf stopping by for a chat.

Jim McBride can be reached at Follow him @globejimmcbride.