5 New England Patriots players who need to have a bounce-back season in 2023

  • Can Kendrick Bourne revert to his 2021 season?
  • Will Mac Jones show why he is the quarterback of the future in New England?
  • How will Hunter Henry become a dominant fixture of the offense again?
New York Jets v New England Patriots
New York Jets v New England Patriots / Maddie Meyer/GettyImages
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Kendrick Bourne

2022 stats:

  • 35/48 receptions
  • 434 yards (12.4 avg Y/R)
  • one touchdown

When Kendrick Bourne was initially signed during Bill Belichick's spending spree in 2021, there wasn't much excitement around New England because most hoped a bigger name receiver would be the one brought in.

At the time, he had spent the first four years of his NFL career with the 49ers, playing behind some of the best pass catchers in the league, like Deebo Samuel and George Kittle. So, although his contract with the Patriots wasn't insignificant, there wasn't much hype around what he was bringing to the team.

But his under-the-radar status disappeared not long after the season began when it was clear he was much better than anyone realized. Bourne became one of Mac Jones' favorite targets, ending the season just shy of tying the team's receiving yards leader in Jakobi Meyers, recording 55 receptions for 800 yards and five touchdowns.

Because he exceeded all expectations, there was a lot of anticipation for how he would perform in his second season in 2022.

Unfortunately, that remained a question left unanswered because of how bad the year went. Several factors impacted Bourne's performance, including admittedly his effort and motivation throughout the season, all culminating in casting doubt about his future in New England.

Once the team returned to Foxboro for offseason programs, Bourne had a noticeable change in attitude and is said to be in the best shape of his career. His performance matched that during training camp, and he seems to have solidified his spot on the roster for the upcoming season.

Although that may be true, he still has a lot to prove. He's looked great during practices and through the few plays he's been on the field for during preseason games, but we know that doesn't mean anything until they play a real game during the regular season.

Now that he has a much more reminiscent attitude from when he first joined the team, Bourne has ample opportunity to prove how vital he is to this developing offense. The chemistry between him and Mac Jones will be crucial to his success this year and hopefully will showcase his talent and why he was signed in the first place.

Besides needing a bounce-back season to demonstrate his worth and skill set, he's also playing on a contract year, as he becomes a free agent in 2024. Performing well this year could be a way to earn another contract in New England, adding more motivation to revert to his 2021 self.