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Patriots rookie Tyquan Thornton tries to make every day a learning experience

Tyquan Thornton (left) went up against Justin Bethel in a drill Friday. Thornton's speed has already been evident in training camp.John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

FOXBOROUGH — Jakobi Meyers was quick to find a word to describe rookie receiver Tyquan Thornton after Day 3 of Patriots training camp.

“Fast,” Meyers said.

“He is elusive, too; a lot of people don’t realize how quick he is getting out of his breaks.”

Everything Thornton does — from his 4.28-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine to his 3½-minute interview with reporters Friday that covered everything from his adjustment to New England to his three career tackles at Baylor — is fast.

And the 2022 second-round draft pick doesn’t plan on slowing down.

“I’m just trying to get 1 percent better every day,” he said, “so in 365 days, hopefully I’ll be 365 percent better.”

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On Friday, Thornton ran routes in the red zone and took passes from Mac Jones in competitive and noncompetitive drills. A jumping catch on the sideline on a high Jones pass was the highlight of the rookie’s day and prompted cheers from fans in attendance.

“I’ve been learning a lot,” Thornton said. “I mean, I just learned some more today from a lot of guys.”

Thornton was the only wide receiver in New England’s 2022 draft class. He said the receivers room is competitive because there are a lot of guys with different skill sets, such as DeVante Parker, Kendrick Bourne, and Meyers.

“The thing about Tyquan is you can tell that he’s happy to learn all the time,” Meyers said. “He comes up to me and says ‘watch my route here’ or ‘watch me do this.’ Just from OTAs to now, honestly, he’s been a better player already.”

Bill Belichick has been especially hands-on with the receivers group during camp. On Wednesday, Belichick worked on routes and footwork with them.

“He knows a lot of football, so, I mean, I’m all ears for it,” said Thornton. “You take the coaching and just apply it to the field.”

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But Thornton knows his speed might not translate as easily as it did in college to the NFL. At 6 feet 2 inches and 182 pounds, the 21-year-old is lean, and his small hands present a possible issue against NFL defenders. He’s working to “become a full, complete receiver.”

The Patriots tested Thornton’s versatility Friday with some reps on special teams. He ran as a gunner with Kristian Wilkerson, and said he has been taking advice from Matthew Slater on the position.

Thornton said he has “some” experience with special teams.

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


Jayna Bardahl was a Globe intern in 2022. Follow her on Twitter @Jaynabardahl.