One of the biggest stories coming out of the New England Patriots’ season opener against the Miami Dolphins was wide receiver Kendrick Bourne having played just two offensive snaps. Bourne did turn one of those into a 41-yard reception — the team’s biggest play of the day — but his lack of opportunities was still a surprise.
The exact reason for the de facto benching remain unclear as of right now, but a series of reports by NBC Sports’ Tom E. Curran and the Boston Herald’s Andrew Callahan is now shedding some further light on the situation. It appears several factors have led the Patriots and Bourne down this road.
After apparently being unhappy with his potential role and target share in New England’s post-Josh McDaniels offense, Bourne had a quiet training camp culminating in an eventful week of joint practices with the Carolina Panthers. Not only did he get ejected from the first session for participating in a fight, he also was relegated to practicing with the second-stringers the following day.
The story does not end there, however. Bourne also arrived “just a smidge” late to the Patriots’ pregame meeting ahead of the two teams’ exhibition contest later that week. He was sent home and did not participate in the game.
Throughout all of this, his performance in the new-look offense led to him sliding down the depth chart to a point where DeVante Parker, Jakobi Meyers and Nelson Agholor did all surpass him. As a result, the Patriots effectively viewed him as their WR4 heading into the regular season — his playing time against Miami reflected this status.
After that game, which ended in a 20-7 defeat for New England, Bourne put the blame for his current situation on himself.
“Not giving the coaches what they want, what they need to see,” he said. “Just need to get better on my part.”
Despite finding himself in the proverbial doghouse after what had been a disappointing summer and first regular season game, the belief is that Bourne’s playing time will increase again moving into Week 2 and beyond. Patriots head coach Bill Belichick himself hinted at that on Monday.
“I’m sure that he’ll have plenty of opportunities, as all of our skill players will, going forward,” he told WEEI. “We’ll see how it all plays out.”
The Patriots will start their on-field preparation for the upcoming game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Wednesday, with the game between the two storied franchises scheduled for a 1 p.m. ET kickoff on Sunday.