By: Andrew Ludwig
Last training camp he was able to surprise many Patriots fans and coaches with his athleticism, ability to get open, and shifty moves in the open field. This season he has come into training camp with a different swagger to him. He is confident and gaining trust from Brady and his coaching staff. The difference this year? He will be practicing with and against the 1's. As an undrafted free agent last season he was able to burst onto the scene practicing and showcasing his skills against fellow undrafted free agents and back up players. This year he will need to show his skills against the starting group and a much improved defense.
Micheal Vega, Boston Globe
“Kenbrell is a lot better football player than he was a year ago and he came in and he had a real good camp last year,’’ Belichick said. “He impressed us, even starting back in the spring. He earned that starting position with his good play and his consistency. But this year, he’s way past that.
“Experience has a lot to do with it. His offseason work also has a lot to do with it. He knows what to expect. He has a much better understanding so he can play with more confidence, more aggressiveness, just generally play faster because of the knowledge of our offense and the expectations and the experience that he’s gained.’’
The most intriguing thing about his play this season is that he is not afraid to mix it up with some of the seasoned veterans, and a big physical corner in Brandon Browner. He knows that playing against a in your face kind of corner like Browner will make him a much better player. Browner is not afraid of contact and will make Kenbrell work to get off the line of scrimmage and get open.
With the lingering injuries that Aaron Dobson is going through and the inconsistent performances from Danny Amendola, a healthy Kenbrell Thompkins can add a legitimate deep threat to the Patriots offense opposite of Brandon Lafell or Dobson when he becomes healthy.
The Patriots can creative with his skill set. They can move him around based on match ups, and he can thrive in any position they put him. Outside or in the slot, he has the speed and size to be a mismatch for the Patriots. It will be interesting to see how they play to use him this season, particularly in the red zone, where he can be a big threat.
He came on strong at the beginning of the season totaling 15 receptions for 257 yards and 3 TDs in the first four games, then he had a tough time staying healthy and on the field which resulted in him being extremely inconsistent the remainder of the season.
If he can stay healthy he will be able to add a deep threat and a solid red zone threat to the Patriots offense, something that Patriots lacked heavily in last years campaign. Look for him to have a significant impact this season and become a legitimate number 2 receiver for Tom Brady and the Patriots offense.