FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Early in the Patriots’ mandatory minicamp practice on Wednesday, there was a play in which quarterback Tom Brady attempted to arc a pass to receiver Kenbrell Thompkins in the right-hand corner of the end zone. One of the challenges was getting the ball over 6-foot-4 cornerback Brandon Browner, and the pass sailed out of bounds incomplete.
At that point, the following note was jotted down: "Tough to throw over Browner when the space gets tight deep in the red zone."
But true to his competitive nature, Brady decided to test the waters a bit later in practice, this time to the left side. The Patriots were in an 11-on-11 drill as part of a “situational football” part of practice and Brady lofted a pass towards the 6-foot-1, 195-pound Thompkins, with Browner once again having the inside leverage.
The pass had to be drop-in-the-bucket perfect, and it was.
Then there was the issue of making the catch, which Thompkins – who seemed to show up with a few big receptions in practice – did.
“That’s very challenging. Brandon Browner is a tremendous athlete, lengthy guy, long arms,” Thompkins said after practice. “But it’s our job to come down with it.”
Thompkins, who totaled 32 receptions as a rookie, has been coming down with his fair share in practice in recent days. With 2013 second-round draft choice Aaron Dobson rehabilitating from foot surgery in late February, and veteran Brandon LaFell not a full participant in practice, it’s been Thompkins taking many of the reps alongside Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola.
He seems to be taking advantage of it, with his catch over Browner one example. Part of what makes a play like that so tough is seeing the ball over such a tall cornerback.
“It’s pretty much all focus,” Thompkins relayed. “Just trying to lock in on the ball, locate it, and as soon as I get my hands up to tuck it away.”