That’s how The Athletic’s Chad Graff sees it amid the Patriots’ offseason moves at wide receiver. The Patriots added JuJu Smith-Schuster in free agency and drafted Kayshon Boutte and Demario Douglas. That could leave Bourne as the odd man out.
“I don’t think Bourne is guaranteed to make the team” and that “he’ll need to re-prove he belongs to fend off Douglas,” Graff wrote.
Bourne caught 35 passes for 434 yards and touchdowns in 2022 amid two starts in 16 games. His production dipped from 2021 when he had 55 catches for 800 yards and five touchdowns in 2021 amid five starts in 17 games.
Besides Bourne, the Patriots got production from DeVante Parker and Tyquan Thornton last year. Parker tallied 31 receptions for 539 yards and three touchdowns in 13 games. Thornton posted 22 receptions for 247 yards and two touchdowns in 13 contests.
Kendrick Bourne ‘Too Dynamic’ Not to Make the Roster, Says Analyst
SB Nation’s Pats Pulpit sees Bourne as more of a lock to make the final 53-man roster.
“Barring any injuries or trades, I think Bourne is too dynamic and has an opportunity to explode with Bill O’Brien overseeing the offense. I think Bourne is in the Patriots’ plans, and rightfully so,” Pats Pulpit’s Cam Garrity wrote.
“He will be on the roster and should be impactful,” Garrity added regarding Bourne. “He’s only 27 years old and is on a team-friendly contract in a year where he’ll be looking to get back to the 2021 version of himself.”
Bill O’Brien Has Strong Message for Patriots Receivers: Insider
O’Brien already had a strong message for Patriots receivers this offseason as he looks to right the ship on offense. New England sputtered offensively in 2022 amid 21.4 points per game, and the Patriots hired O’Brien this offseason in place of Matt Patricia and Joe Judge, who coached the offense last year.
Patriots insider Mike Giardi reported that O’Brien’s “impact” is “already being felt in Foxboro.” Giardi noted a particular message from O’Brien to the receivers via a source.
“For whatever reasons last year — coaching, talent, attitude — there were a lot of bad plays on tape,” the source said via Giardi. “This year, that won’t be tolerated. Do it right, or you’ll be standing next to him, watching.”
Patriots Made WR Moves Before Minicamp
The Patriots already made one cut at receiver before rookie minicamp with the release of Lynn Bowden Jr. on May 10. The former Kentucky standout remained on the Patriots practice squad for most of the 2022 season despite his promising athletic talent.
A third-round draft pick in 2020 by the Las Vegas Raiders, Bowden won the Paul Hornung Award in 2019. Bowden piled on yards for the Wildcats as a receiver, quarterback, running back, and kick returner that year.
New England also added a couple of receivers ahead of rookie minicamp. That’s Ed Lee and Dox Aitken, both of whom earned tryouts with the Patriots. Lee, a former Rhode Island standout, tallied 86 receptions for 1,262 yards and eight touchdowns in 37 games amid five seasons with the Rams. Aitken turned heads as a tryout selection because he played lacrosse at Virginia where he won All-American honors.