FOXBORO — For the second consecutive day, Kenbrell Thompkins stole the show with his play on the offensive side of the ball at Patriots training camp.
After the first day, quarterback Tom Brady raved about two catches by Thompkins and claimed to “have a lot of confidence in him, a lot of trust.”
Yesterday, it was evident early on why the second-year receiver found himself in the quarterback’s good graces.
In a 7-on-7 passing drill, Thompkins ran a crisp route through two defenders to the corner of the end zone, where he was greeted with a perfectly timed ball from Brady in a tight window. It seemed a far cry from the timing issues that hampered the Patriots last season.
As practice continued Thompkins kept heating up. He laid out for another touchdown reception in a red-zone entry drill, and beat Kyle Arrington for a score in the team’s 11-on-11 drill.
However, his most impressive play of the day came against All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis in another 11-on-11 drill. With Revis draped all over him in coverage, Thompkins gained enough separation in the end zone to make a diving catch, much to the delight of Brady.
When asked about his apparent growth, a coy Thompkins insisted it wasn’t anything special. “Just (improving) the fundamentals of the game, and understanding it a little bit more,” he said.
He went on to say making plays seems easier in his second season because, “A lot of things (have) slowed down for me.”
Two days in a row of excellent play from the young wideout is a positive sign for the Patriots, as Thompkins’ greatest struggle last season was with consistency.
In his first year, he displayed flashes of brilliance, and was at the forefront of the team’s dramatic comeback against New Orleans. Thompkins made the game-winning catch in the end zone as time expired to give the Pats a 30-27 victory.
However, he was also plagued by a number of dropped balls as well as a nagging hip injury, and only registered one reception in the final two months of the season.
After his roller-coaster rookie season, Thompkins is looking for a more level sophomore campaign, and it’s easy to be encouraged by what he’s shown thus far.
If Thompkins can maintain the level of play he’s brought to the first couple of days of training camp, a level at which he can beat Revis, then the Pats offense has a lot to feel good about moving forward.
By: Chris Mason