At first it seemed like a big deal, until it wasn’t.
That was the case over the weekend when the Patriots initially did not include Demaryius Thomas on their 53-man roster. But then various reports indicated Thomas’ time with the team was not necessarily over, and just a day later there he was back on the practice field with his teammates.
“He knows what it takes to be successful in this league now in Year 10,” safety Devin McCourty said Monday. “It’s been fun just to see him work. We were drafted in the same year. We always played tough games when he was in Denver against him. He’s just come in, not worried about what he’s done in the past and just worked and I think it’s paid off for him.”
In a move that surprised no one, ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweeted Monday morning that Thomas had re-signed with the Patriots. That came shortly after Schefter’s tweet informing everyone that rookie first-round pick N’Keal Harry has been placed on injured reserve as he deals with an ankle problem. Schefter added that the Patriots expect Harry to play this season, but the earliest that could happen now would be Week 9 in Baltimore.
As for Thomas, the veteran opened training camp on PUP before being activated following the Carolina game in Week 3. After taking part in a couple of practices, he joined Julian Edelman and Josh Gordon in the lineup during the Week 4 loss to the Giants. He opened some eyes by catching seven passes for 87 yards and a pair of touchdowns, albeit against less-than-stellar competition.
Regardless, the fact that Thomas was healthy enough to compete at that level was a bright spot and allowed Bill Belichick to keep him in the receiver rotation to start the season. On Sunday, the coach talked about the difficulties of evaluating the position due to the injuries this summer.
“The whole receiver situation has been challenging all through camp with the limited availability of certain players,” he said. “I'd say most of the players have been limited at one point or another. So we just have to use the information we have and do the best we can with it. We’ll have to see how it goes.”
As for Harry, it’s not an ideal way to begin his rookie season. He was in the process of shaking off a slow start to camp when he started making plays on a more regular basis during practice. Then he appeared to injure his hamstring during a joint practice in Detroit, but still suited up and played in the opener against the Lions a few days later.
He impressed in limited duty, catching both passes sent his way before once again limping off the field after only three snaps. Various reports linked that injury to his ankle, but regardless it was the last we saw of him during the preseason as he was relegated to rehab work over the final three weeks.
Now his first NFL regular season will be cut in half at the very least, which will stunt his development at the start.
“We feel that all players benefit from practicing, otherwise there would be no point in us doing it,” Belichick said when asked about Harry’s progress. “So, those are opportunities. Every player’s missed time at one point or another for whatever the reasons are. That’s something that we deal with all the time. It’s very rare in the National Football League that every player on your team is 100 percent healthy, so it’s kind of like the rest of the NFL. Every team in the league goes through the same thing.
“He’s definitely getting better. I mean, all of our injured players are getting better. All of the guys that have been dealing with things are getting better. Where exactly they are – some of them didn’t play in the game on Sunday if they didn’t practice on Friday. We didn’t practice [Saturday], so some of these guys we haven’t seen on the field in a couple of days. So we’ll see where they’re at.”
All players, including Thomas, were spotted during the media portion of practice on Monday. There were a couple of additional names that could be potentially added to the practice squad as lockers for No, 96 Gerri Green and Najee Toran were seen. The team has yet to announce any further moves after naming eight members to the practice squad on Sunday.
Cameras caught Tom Brady trimming the long golden locks of rookie and fellow Michigan alum Chase Winovich during the preseason finale against the Giants last Thursday. On Monday, Winovich was asked about the talents of his new barber.
“I think a lot of people would pay a lot of money to have Tom as a barber,” Winovich said with a smile. “Luckily I had that option so I’ll just leave it at that. On the sideline, that was cool. I got to watch the Patriots on the sideline while getting my haircut by To Brady. It was an experience for sure.”
In the meantime, Winovich is looking forward to getting his first NFL season underway.
“I’m anxious in a sense but at the same time I’ve been doing it for so long at this point I’m confident in my preparation and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to fill whatever role I might have on Sunday,” he said.