- Mike Reiss, ESPN Staff Writer
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One of the more popular questions among Twitter followers following the New England Patriots' 55-31 win against the Steelers is on the status of rookie receiver Kenbrell Thompkins, who was a healthy scratch for the first time this season.
Head coach Bill Belichick was asked about Thompkins during his Monday conference calls and explained the mindset that led to the decision.
"I think KT is still making good progress and is working hard," Belichick said. "I haven't seen any let-up in his effort level or trying to do things that he knows he needs to do. I think he'll continue to improve and help our football team.
"The way things went yesterday with the game plan, a combination of factors, we felt like we activated the 46 players that would give us the best chance to win. We 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."
So has fellow rookie Aaron Dobson, who had a breakout game and has passed Thompkins as the No. 1 option as the "X" receiver the past two weeks.
Overall on Sunday, the Patriots dressed three tight ends and fullback James Develin, which had them going with just four receivers, as veteran Austin Collie was the No. 4 option over Thompkins. With Collie leaving the game with a knee injury in the second quarter and not returning, Thompkins could very well be back in the lineup Nov. 18 at Carolina.
Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels added this on Thompkins: "In each week, there are so many things that go into a game plan and so many decisions that are made based on special teams or what packages people are using offensively or defensively, or what we need to have up for the game in terms of our depth. I think a lot of those decisions, Coach [Belichick] makes, and there is a lot of things that go into those.
"With Kenbrell, there's no real change in terms of what we've seen from different guys. I think everybody is working hard and contributing in practice, and then whatever ends up happening at the end of the week, and the way that Bill decides to go with it, it's really his choice and his decision based on how he sees the game being played. I'll leave that up to him, and like I said, everybody is contributing. Some weeks it's a different formula at receiver, and the same thing could be said for the tight ends. That's just the way this goes and we're going to continue to work with everybody."