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How Kendrick Bourne’s life was changed by Patriots head coach Bill Belichick

Related: Mac Jones-Kendrick Bourne connection was one of the best in the NFL in 2021

NFL: Cleveland Browns at New England Patriots Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Even though it came to an end on wild card weekend, Kendrick Bourne’s first season with the New England Patriots was a successful one. Appearing in all 18 of the team’s games and building an instant connection with quarterback Mac Jones, Bourne set new career highs in receptions (62), receiving yards (877) and touchdowns (7).

Numbers alone do not tell the story of Bourne’s first season in New England, though. As he said during a recent appearance on Fubo Sports’ Getcha Popcorn Ready with T.O. & Hatch, he also learned how to properly take care of his body — crediting Patriots head coach Bill Belichick with putting him on the right track.

“One hundred percent, Bill Belichick changed my life,” Bourne said. “He’s the best coach in the world. Shoutout to you, Bill Belichick. He is the best coach in the world, hands down.”

So, what exactly did Belichick do to change Bourne’s life for the better? He held him out of practice at one point because he was not properly hydrated.

“He taught me really how to hydrate, sat me out of practice because I failed the hydration test,” the wide receiver said. “This is what I needed, though. I want to buy in, I’m trying to be the best I can be. This is how they work, so I’m like, ‘OK, I’ve got to figure this out.’ And I just found a routine. I wasn’t hydrating in San Francisco at all. ...

“Over time, I just learned how to drink water in the morning, drinking it all through [the day] until practice, and I just found myself getting better. Now my body’s feeling better. I can make it through practice easy. I can go longer after practice, throw extra and things like that.”

A former undrafted free agent, Bourne started his career with the San Francisco 49ers in 2017. He had a productive four-year stint with the team but took his game to a new level after joining the Patriots via a three-year, $15 million free agency contract last spring.

Bourne ended the season ranked second on the team in the major receiving categories. He also proved his versatility — he was used as an occasional ball-carrier and even threw a 25-yard touchdown at one point — and quickly developed into a tone-setter for the Patriots both on and off the field.

Not all of that was due to him changing his hydration habits, but it still played a role.

“It was just a shift,” Bourne said. “I bought into everything. And that was one of the smallest details of buying in. It’s a small detail, but people don’t think about it. They don’t drink water. And I was really every day, and over time everything got better after that. That little detail, adding that to my routine, it was huge.”