After looking like a budding No. 1 receiver in 2021, Kendrick Bourne was moved to the back burner in New England’s season-opening 20-7 loss to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday.

It took the wide receiver 54 minutes to get on the field at Hard Rock Stadium, and after catching a 41-yard pass and then being pulled back to the sideline, the wide receiver was visibly frustrated.

In addition to being his quarterback, Mac Jones is now one of Bourne’s captains. He sets the tone for the entire offense. So after Bourne played only two snaps in South Florida, what is Jones’ message to the veteran wide receiver moving forward?

“I think KB has to control what he can control,” Jones said on a Monday afternoon conference call. “When he gets a chance to play or practice, just like we all do, we have try do our best that we can. He just has to continue to be himself. He’s done a good job. He’s a great teammate and we have a lot of guys on our team like that.

“So I hope he can contribute more – and he will. His time will come. The plays will come, don’t chase them. He’ll get a chance and when he does I have confidence in him. He’s a great route runner. A great competitor. So he’s just gotta do what he’s doing and continue to see his role increase.”

Despite sitting on the sideline for almost the entire game, it didn’t take long for Jones to find Bourne with the deep ball when he finally did step onto the field. Asked about the chemistry to two have built, Jones voiced more confidence in it.


“I think KB is very consistent with how he plays. I know exactly where he’s going to be,” Jones said. “So we have a good amount of banked reps, and I feel that way with a lot of guys on our team. So I feel like we can spread the ball around and we’ve just gotta continue to do that. KB is a big part of it and we want him to be to help – and anyone to help – we just want to be able to score more points.”

Fellow captain Matthew Slater also spoke to the media on Monday afternoon, and echoed his quarterback’s sentiment.

“Kendrick and I have a very good relationship. It’s special for different reasons,” Slater said. “Any time a teammate is in that situation you want him to stay positive. Continue to work hard. Keep his head down and stay committed to his team and his craft. And I know he’s going to do that. He’s a selfless player. He loves his team. He wants to help this team any way he can.”

After the game, Patriots Coach Bill Belichick said the wide receiver’s lack of playing time wasn’t disciplinary, and Bourne was asked what the coaching staff had told him about the pseudo-benching.

“Not sure. Just playing my role,” Bourne said. “Whatever I’ve gotta do, I’m just waiting for that moment. I don’t really know. Just waiting on the opportunity.”

Is there anything specific he can point to that led to this?


“No, just not giving the coaches what they want. What they need to see,” Bourne said. “So just need to get better on my part.”

After excelling in his first season in Foxborough – something plenty of wide outs before him have struggled to do – Bourne turned in a tumultuous summer.

He got off to a slow start in training camp during 11-on-11 drills, and when joint practices with the Panthers rolled around, everything hit the fan. Bourne was booted from one session for fighting, but even before that, Belichick had ripped into him right in front of the media tent for an equipment issue. It didn’t look like things were in a good place. Then Bourne was simply “unavailable” for the preseason game against Carolina and free fell down the depth chart from there.

“Disappointed in myself,” Bourne said. “I could be better. Play better. Practice better. So I think that’s what it takes, just me practicing better so the coaches can trust me more.”

Clearly Bourne’s raw ability hasn’t diminished. Turning a few snaps into 41 yards shows the 27-year-old can still be an impact player. And if the Patriots are to hit their ceiling, they’re going to need Bourne to be just that.

Jakobi Meyers was the only other player to register a 20-plus yard gain – a 27-yard circus catch in the second quarter – but he’s reliable a possession receiver. Bourne is a home run hitter, and in the 2022 NFL, the Patriots need the threat to go yard on any play.

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