The Patriots offense lit up the Steelers on Sunday in Foxborough. Tom Brady had his way with the Pittsburgh secondary and spread the ball around to a variety of pass-catchers. One player who did not show up on the stat sheet, or on the field, was rookie wideout Kenbrell Thompkins, who was a surprising healthy scratch for the game.
The scratch, and Thompkins' apparent decline on the team's depth chart, are somewhat puzzling after a strong pre-season and early regular season performance. Since then, his role in the offense has steadily decreased, while Aaron Dobson's stock continues to rise every week. Despite Thompkin's diminished role, Coach Bill Belichick claims the team still has faith in him as a young player (Quote from WEEI.com):
“I think KT is still making good progress and is working hard. I haven’t seen any letup in his effort level or trying to do things that he knows he needs to do,” Bill Belichick said Monday during a conference call. “I think he’ll continue to improve and help our football team. Just the way things went [Sunday] with our game plan and our opponent and a combination of factors, we felt that we activated the 46 players that we felt would give us the best chance to win. We’ll do that same thing every week. However that turns out, it will be a week-to-week decision for everybody. I don’t think anybody has lost any confidence in KT, I certainly haven’t. I think he’s made a lot of improvement this year. He continues to work hard and I think will continue to make it.”
Thompkins emergence began in the preseason after arriving in New England as an undrafted free agent. His regular season has been a bit of a rollercoaster, filled with spectacular catches, painful drops, and a touchdown reception for the ages. In total, he has racked up 23 catches, 334 yards, and four touchdowns, two of which came against Tampa Bay in Week 3. It will be interesting to see if he will be a contributing player in the second half of the season, or continue to fade into obscurity.