FOXBORO -- Kenbrell Thompkins is still working to get on the same page as Tom Brady. He'll tell you it's a day-by-day progression. Not easy for a rookie, of course. Nevermind a rookie who wasn't even drafted, trying to fit in with one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game.
Until the victory on Sunday over Miami, Thompkins had at least two receptions in every game of the season. Still, against the Dolphins, the wide receiver played a season-low 14 snaps, and had no catches, just two weeks after making a game-winning catch against the New Orleans Saints.
On Wednesday, Thompkins acknowledged the strides he is still taking at practice, and how progression is being made. He also shared a piece of advice that he received from his cousin, Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown, while the two worked out together in the offseason.
Pittsburgh is in town on Sunday, and Thompkins reflected on that advice he was given before teaming up with Tom Brady.
"I asked [Brown], 'Being a rookie, what do I got to do?' He responded to me and told me, 'You already know what to do,'" said Thompkins.
"That's all he said. He said nothing after that. And when he said that to me, it kind of just woke me up. It made me feel like, I don't have anything to stress about. All I have to do is just go out there and play football.
"When he left it like that, it kind of made me just realize, all I have to do is just go in and just play football. And that's kind of what I did."
Thompkins said Brown taught him by example. And one of the more important lessons was work ethic, something he tries to bring to practice each and every day, even if his playing time takes a hit because of some major players getting healthy.
"His work ethic is pretty much unbelievable," Thompkins said of Brown. "He's a guy that can run all day.
"You go to his house. His house is like a [bleeping] weight room. He's got weights everywhere, medicine balls everywhere. And just to see that, it kind of just motivates you to want to do the same thing."
Brad Stevens is inserting Jae Crowder into the starting lineup in attempts to limit LeBron James. Who Crowder will replace is unknown.