Carolina coach Matt Rhule has high expectations, fondness for Patriots rookie Tyquan Thornton, who played for him at Baylor

FOXBOROUGH — Amid a question-filled press conference about the Patriots-Panthers joint practice brawl and his team’s ongoing quarterbacking competition, Carolina coach Matt Rhule’s face lit up when asked about something different.

In joint practices Tuesday and Wednesday and in Friday night’s exhibition game at Gillette Stadium, Rhule coached New England Patriots wide receiver Tyquan Thornton. The rookie, who has turned heads so far in the preseason, played out his college career at Baylor. In two of his four seasons at Waco, Texas, Rhule served as his head coach.

The Panthers coach had fond memories and high expectations for Thornton, who the Patriots selected in the second round of the 2021 draft.

“I remember Tyquan’s family came to visit and sat at our house. I remember coming down and trying to get Tyquan to leave Florida State and come play for us at Baylor,” Rhule said. “I think his son is here today. I can not wait to see it.

Rhule thought the Patriots added a good NFL receiver and teammate.

“He’s an amazing football player and an even better person. People in this community are going to love him. He’s going to play when he’s stoned and will do whatever he can to help the team. I love him personally as a guy and he’s a great football player,” Rhule said. “He has a huge opportunity, he will get bigger and stronger and knowing him, he loves football.

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