Patriots Face Key Injury as Minicamp Begins: Report

Bill Belichick

Getty Bill Belichick has a depleted receiver room to start minicamp this week.

With so much riding on a retooled offense, the New England Patriots face a major setback as minicamp begins this week.

Patriots wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster will miss practice because of an injury according to a source via The Athletic’s Jeff Howe. New England signed Smith-Schuster this offseason to fill the void left by former No. 1 receiver Jakobi Meyers, who joined the Las Vegas Raiders.

ESPN’s Mike Reiss reported that the Patriots are being “cautious” due to Smith-Schuster’s injury from the AFC Championship Game last season. Smith-Schuster played for the Kansas City Chiefs when the injury occurred, and he notably came back to play for the Chiefs in the Super Bowl.

With the Chiefs, Smith-Schuster  amassed 78 receptions for 933 yards and three touchdowns in 2022. He previously had a solid career with the Pittsburgh Steelers where he tallied 323 receptions for 3,855 yards and 26 touchdowns in five seasons.

New England notably didn’t have Smith-Schuster participating in organized team activities in May and early June. The Patriots need his services to right the ship with an offense that only put up 21.4 points per game last year.

After Smith-Schuster, the Patriots don’t have another receiver who has made a Pro Bowl or hauled in 1,000 yards in a season.

Another Patriots WR Nursing an Injury: Report

Injury concerns don’t end with Smith-Schuster when it comes to the Patriots’ receiver room.

Tyquan Thornton “is managing a soft-tissue-related injury after he was active early in OTAs” according to a source, Reiss wrote. Thornton missed time at OTAs last week, too.

The second-year receiver looks to take a step forward after only catching 22 passes for 247 yards and two touchdowns in 2022. Thornton impressed during late May OTA session when he caught a deep ball from Patriots quarterback Mac Jones.

New England selected Thornton in the second round of the 2022 NFL Draft. Thornton had a standout senior season at Baylor in 2021 where he caught 62 passes for 948 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Smith-Schuster and Thornton possibly won’t take the field at all for minicamp, which runs through Wednesday, June 14. If so, both receivers could get about six weeks to heal in time for training camp in late July.

Kendrick Bourne: ‘It’s Different This Year’

Patriots wide receiver Kendrick Bourne didn’t produce what he wanted in 2022, but he sees better things coming this year.

“I feel like last year was tough for all of us,” Bourne told reporters on June 9 via’s Mike Dussault. “It’s all about us growing. I see the growth, I see the focus from everybody, it’s different this year. Ready to make it count this year.”

For Bourne, he caught 35 passes for 434 yards and a touchdown in 16 games played in 2022. Those numbers marked his lowest totals since 2020.

“I didn’t give the team my best effort,” Bourne said via Dussault. “Personally we as players have to be our best so we can give the team the opportunity to win and I feel like I didn’t do that. So I’ve been grinding, trying to get bigger, weighing more, just being a more solid receiver and being able to do more.

“I don’t really go off stats, I go off how I feel, how I look and I just wasn’t in a good place, now I just want to avoid that,” Bourne added. “So it was a good learning process, it was good that it happened to me, and it’s always good to learn from hard times, struggling times.”


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