The New England Patriots are still a work in progress at wide receiver, but the signing of free-agent Demaryius Thomas earlier this week did provide some much-needed depth at the position.
Patriots offseason workouts are underway at Gillette Stadium, where several players are putting in long hours to prepare for the 2019 NFL season. One of those players is cornerback Stephon Gilmore, who was asked Thursday about the Patriots' newest wide receiver addition.
“(Thomas is) a great player,” Gilmore told reporters in Foxboro. “He’s made a lot of great plays in this league, and he’s tough to cover, tough to bring down. Couple things that stand out with him.
"(He’s) strong, explosive. Hopefully, he can help us win games.”
Thomas has enjoyed a very productive NFL career, but a torn Achilles suffered late in December has put his future in doubt. Given the severity of an Achilles injury, it wouldn't be surprising if he's unable to play for the Patriots when they kick off their Super Bowl title defense against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sept. 8. He's not even a guarantee to make the team. Remember what happened to Reggie Wayne during his short stint in New England?
When healthy, however, Thomas is more than capable of providing solid production. He tallied five consecutive 1,000-yard seasons from 2012 through 2016. His excellent size at 6-foot-3 and 229 pounds makes him a good redzone target, too. He was able to rack up 59 receptions for 677 yards and five touchdowns between the Denver Broncos and Houston Texans last season -- not bad for a 31-year-old veteran.
No one knows if suspended wideout Josh Gordon will play at all for the Patriots next season. Chris Hogan and Cordarrelle Patterson left in NFL free agency, and tight end Rob Gronkowski retired. The Patriots need to fill the void from these departures. Thomas, if healthy, has a chance to play a role in that.
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