Despite being one of the New England Patriots’ most explosive offensive players last season, wide receiver Kendrick Bourne was a bystander for the majority of the team’s Week 1 loss on Sunday in Miami.
“It just kind of worked out that way,” Bill Belichick said Monday morning during his weekly interview on WEEI’s The Greg Hill Show, “It wasn’t anything that was specifically avoided. Just didn’t work.”
Bourne did not see his first snap of the game until there was 5:53 remaining in the fourth quarter. He played just one additional snap the very next play, leaving his mark by hauling in a 41-yard reception, New England’s longest play of the afternoon.
“I thought ‘KB’ did a great job stepping in there when we needed him,” Belichick added. “Made a big play for us. He’s a good player. I’m sure that he’ll have plenty of opportunities, as all of our skill players will, going forward, so we’ll see how it all plays out.”
After a summer that featured Bourne being ejected in a practice for fighting, a preseason benching, getting reamed out from Belichick, and overall quiet production on the field, his role was diminished near the end of training camp. After the game on Sunday, he blamed himself for his reduced role, saying he hasn't shown the coaches “what they need to see.”
On Monday, quarterback Mac Jones also touched on the wide receiver and his surprise absence from the 20-7 loss to the Dolphins.
“I think KB has to control what he can control and when he gets a chance to play or practice, just like we all do, we have to try to do our best that we can,” Jones told reporters. “He just has to continue to be himself, and 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, and his time will come.
“Like I always say, 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 and a great competitor. He’s just got to do what he’s doing and continue to see his role increase.”
Bourne got off to a strong start in his first year in New England, immediately showing a strong connection with Jones. He posted career-highs with 55 catches and 800 yards, while also tying his personal best with five touchdown catches. The energetic receiver also produced with 125 rushing yards and tossed one touchdown pass.
His skillset and playmaking ability is something the Patriots desperately needed on the field on Sunday.
“I think KB, he’s very consistent with how he plays,” Jones added. “I know exactly where he’s going to be and stuff. We have a good amount of banked reps, and I feel that way with a lot of guys on our team. I feel like we can spread the ball around. We’ve just got to continue to do that. KB’s a big part of it, and we want him to be able to help and anyone to help. We just want to be able to score more points.”
Time will tell if the Patriots plan to incorporate Bourne more into the offense going forward. But for now, the receiver is set to stay the course.
“Anytime a teammate is in that situation you want him to stay positive, continue to work hard, keep his head down, and stay committed to the team and to his craft, and I know he’s going to do that,” long-time captain Matthew Slater said on Monday.
“He’s a selfless player. He loves this team and he wants to help this team anyway that he can.”