New England receiver Kayshon Boutte, in his second year with the Patriots, had a strong showing at minicamp and OTAs. Morry Gash/Associated Press

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Spring practices in the NFL are officially called OTAs and minicamp, but they’re otherwise known as “passing camp.”

The focus for these practices in May and June is historically on the passing game with pads, blocking, tackling, and contact of any kind prohibited, so it’s difficult to evaluate running backs as well as offensive line and defensive line play.

Typically, quarterbacks, receivers, and defensive backs are the stars of the show. For the Patriots, one of the biggest standouts from OTAs and minicamp was an under-the-radar receiver.

Over five practices open to the media, Kayshon Boutte led all receivers with 14 receptions. He tied with running back JaMychal Hasty for the team lead in catches during full-team drills. On Wednesday, he caught a team-high five passes, including three in a row during a red zone drill with Drake Maye at quarterback. On one play, he jumped over cornerback Alex Austin for the touchdown. On the very next, he jumped over defensive back Mickey Victor for the score.

“Part was the read. Another part was him winning 1-on-1 matchups,” Maye said when asked about his connection with Boutte. “They get paid to do that. He showed it today, made some great grabs. The two over here on the sideline were close and the one over there. He’s a good ballplayer. Played in the SEC. Just trying to give those guys a chance.”

Boutte was one of two players to catch passes from all four quarterbacks in team drills this spring, joining rookie Ja’Lynn Polk. The second-year player was Maye’s go-to target, leading that group with seven receptions. He also caught four passes from Jacoby Brissett, two from Bailey Zappe, and had one catch from Joe Milton III.


Considering the competition at receiver, it’s impressive that Boutte finished minicamp with more catches than the likes of DeMario Douglas (10), K.J. Osborn (nine), and JuJu Smith-Schuster (eight). He’ll have to continue that trend if he wants to make the Patriots 53-man roster come September.

At this point, if all are healthy, Kendrick Bourne, Douglas, Osborn, Polk, and Javon Barker look like roster locks. That would leave one or two more roster spots for another receiver. Boutte’s main competition will be Smith-Schuster, Tyquan Thornton, and Jalen Reagor.

There’s also the matter of Boutte’s legal situation. In January, Boutte was arrested in Louisiana on gambling and fraud charges. He allegedly bet and played more than 8,900 wagers on LSU games while playing for the Tigers. At this point, it’s unknown how that situation will affect Boutte’s availability this season.

“We will wait to hear from the league going forward, but he’s out here,” Coach Jerod Mayo said on May 20. “He is doing a good job for us.”

STEPHON GILMORE is still looking for a team for 2024 – and doesn’t see a reason why it couldn’t be the New England Patriots.

Talking on the red carpet before Tom Brady’s Patriots Hall of Fame induction this week at Gillette Stadium, the free agent cornerback was asked if there was a chance fans could see him back in New England this season.


“You never know. I’ll weigh any options,” Gilmore said. “This is a place that I played great ball, so just letting it play out how it’s gonna be.”

Gilmore, who turns 34 in September, is coming off a productive season with the Dallas Cowboys, showing that he can still hang with receivers despite being one of the league’s oldest cornerbacks.

So with minicamp and OTAs already in the books, why hasn’t Gilmore signed with a team yet?

“Being patient right now,” he said. “I feel good, Year 13, been playing a long time. So I’m just being patient and waiting for the right opportunity.”

Gilmore is a five-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro selection, with his best years coming during his four-year stretch with the Patriots. Gilmore’s time in New England was highlighted in 2019 when he was named Defensive Player of the Year.

Gilmore’s run with the Patriots came to an abrupt end in 2021 when he was traded before the season while recovering from injury. The veteran cornerback has since played for three teams in three seasons: the Panthers in 2021, Colts in 2022 and Cowboys in 2023.

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