The New England Patriots hope to avoid a third straight loss when they visit the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 6. After the Patriots only scored three total points in their last two losses, it's clear that Bill Belichick's team needs some kind of spark to stop the season from becoming unsalvageable.
With their injury situation piling up, the Patriots finally received some terrific news early this week. Team writer Evan Lazar reports that wide receiver Tyquan Thornton returned to practice Tuesday morning, putting him on track to face the Raiders.
Tyquan Thornton Injury News
Thornton's return to practice means the Patriots now have 21 days to activate him from the injured reserve. The former second-rounder was placed on the IR back in August after suffering a shoulder injury in a joint practice with the Green Bay Packers.
The good news couldn't have come at a better time for the Patriots. Their WR room has not only been one of their biggest weak spots this season (granted, Mac Jones' awful play hasn't helped), but the injuries are piling up as Demario Douglas and JuJu Smith-Schuster both exited the Week 5 loss with head injuries.
Heading into Week 6, New England doesn't have a single wideout averaging more than 43.6 receiving yards per game. Even worse is that Kendrick Bourne is the only player at the position who's found the end zone this season, recording two touchdowns.
A healthy Thornton would add a much-needed layer to the Patriots' aerial attack. The speedy pass-catcher — who ran a 4.28-second 40-yard dash at the 2022 NFL Combine — is a talented downfield threat who tallied 247 receiving yards with two TDs on 22 catches as a rookie with the Pats last year.
Along with Thornton, rookie WR Kayshon Boutte could suit up if Douglas and Smith-Schuster aren't ready to go. The ex-LSU Tiger hasn't played a snap since dropping all four targets thrown his way in Week 1's 25-20 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.
A healthy WR corps is needed if the Patriots want to shock the world by making the 2023-24 NFL postseason. Unfortunately, that could be easier said than done. FanDuel Sportsbook currently favors New England to miss the playoffs at -1800 odds — an implied probability of 94.7%.
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