The Patriots’ preseason was filled to the brim with drama; from the unsettling implication of Matt Patricia becoming the new offensive coordinator to the lackluster performance from the team overall, it was nothing short of a headline-making month for the team.
A new storyline would be added when the Panthers came to town for joint practices before their preseason game. From the start, Carolina’s players came in hot and were ready to jaw with anyone in their path. This led to two days of fighting between the two teams, with multiple ejections from practice on both sides.
Kendrick Bourne seemed to catch the most flack for his participation in one of the brawls, although he only became involved after Kristian Wilkerson was unnecessarily heckled by the Panthers’ bench players. He would be one of the few Patriots sent home from practice and his stance with the team since then has been murky at best.
Throughout the remainder of practices, Bourne would not be involved much with the starters. Despite his standout training camp and preseason last year, his involvement had significantly dropped nearing the start of the 2022 season.
It was believed it wasn’t due to lack of production, as he was the clear WR2 during his first season with the team. But more of a “punishment” from Bill Belichick stemming from his behavior in the joint practices with the Panthers.
Was Patriots’ Kendrick Bourne in the Belichick doghouse?
Some of the context for Bourne’s lack of involvement would become even more confusing through the weeks. Albert Breer of The MMQB would reveal behind-the-scenes details involving Bourne’s alleged negative feelings on the newly implemented offense.
When appearing on Zolak and Bertrand last week, Breer described Bourne as one of the leading voices in questioning the new offensive plan set in place.
"“I think he was the primary, “what the hell is this?” guys from the spring and summer. My feeling on it was he was one of the guys that was sort of questioning the plan, questioning what was going on there. I had said before, some of the questioning of what they were doing offensively was internal and I certainly think that was the case with him."
Breer would go on to say that because Bourne spent the first four years of his NFL career being coached by Kyle Shanahan in San Francisco, it’s likely he wasn’t too keen on the Patriots switching to a more Shanahan-style offense.
"“But you can see when you look at who the guy was coached by why he would be one of the guys who would say, “what is this?” because he played for Kyle Shanahan in San Francisco and he played for Josh McDaniels his first year in New England. So if there was somebody who might be qualified to say or might feel like he is entitled to a certain level of coaching at this level of football, it’d be a guy on that side of the ball who played for Kyle Shanahan and Josh McDaniels.”"
Breer’s story about Bourne’s feelings on the offense would be confirmed on Tuesday, by Patriots’ beat reporter, Andrew Callahan of the Boston Herald.
What has happened since the Patriots/Panthers’ joint practices?
Fast forward to the Patriots’ week one game against the Dolphins and Bourne would be MIA for nearly the entire game. He would see his first snap late in the fourth quarter, making a huge play for 41 yards. But would only be on the field for one more offensive snap the rest of the game, leaving many scratching their heads considering the struggle the Patriots’ offense had throughout the game.
Several players would speak on Bourne’s importance to the team overall post-game but didn’t provide any context as to why their teammate was not involved more. Belichick would follow suit, providing no indication of the reason behind Bourne’s apparent benching.
The team’s press conferences on Monday would end the same, with multiple players expressing their fondness for Bourne and their hope to see him succeed. But other than their personal opinions, no new information would be revealed.
What is the current rumor surrounding Bourne’s status?
Tom Curran of NBC Sports Boston would discuss the situation on Tuesday during his appearance on WEEI’s Gresh & Keefe.
He shared what he has heard and/or been told about the situation with Bourne, claiming the Patriot is indeed in the doghouse but not because of Belichick.
Intertwined with the spectacle that was the Patriots/Panthers joint practices, Curran stated that Bourne was late to a preseason meeting hosted by Patricia. He would be sent home because of his tardiness, which has led to his decrease in practice and games.
The NFL insider went on to say that Patriots’ owner, Robert Kraft took notice of Bourne’s apparent benching, especially during their week one game, and made his feelings on the situation known.
It’s unclear at this point what the true issue is behind Bourne’s obvious benching and if Kraft’s input will drastically change the game plan for the next matchup against Pittsburgh this Sunday. But knowing what Bourne can do on the football field for the Patriots, it would better suit the team to get it figured it now, rather than continuing to “make a statement” and risk the success of the team because of it.