The New England Patriots offense received a Christmas present on Saturday morning. As first reported by Andrew Callahan of the Boston Herald, starting wide receiver Kendrick Bourne has been activated off the Coronavirus reserve list and is expected to play in the Week 16 matchup with the Buffalo Bills.
Bourne, 26, was first sent to reserve/Covid-19 on Monday after testing positive. Under the league’s protocols for vaccinated players, however, he was allowed to come back in time for the high-stakes game against Buffalo.
The activation is good news for both player and team. Bourne’s return comes just one day after the Patriots had to rule out fellow wide receiver Nelson Agholor due to a head injury; Agholor had missed practice all week after he sustained a concussion last Saturday versus the Indianapolis Colts.
Had Bourne also not been able to return off the Coronavirus reserve list, the Patriots’ wide receiver situation would have been dire outside of Jakobi Meyers and nominal WR4 N’Keal Harry. The only other wide receiver under contract with the team who has caught an NFL pass is Gunner Olszewski — the team’s primary punt returner who has been on the receiving end of just one throw all season.
Bourne, meanwhile, has been a steady contributor since arriving in New England during the offseason. Aligning all over the offensive formation, he has caught 45 passes for 667 yards and five touchdowns. The fifth-year man, who started his career with the San Francisco 49ers, also added 100 yards on nine carries and has thrown a 25-yard touchdown.
The Patriots’ game against the Bills on Sunday is set for a 1 p.m. ET kickoff at Gillette Stadium.