Patriots' unofficial depth chart gets interesting change after first preseason game

New England Patriots v Green Bay Packers
New England Patriots v Green Bay Packers / Patrick McDermott/GettyImages

Ahead of the Patriots' first game of the preseason against the Houston Texans last week, the team's website published the first unofficial depth chart for 2023. Other than being an intriguing first look into how Bill Belichick and other coaches view the current roster, what stood out the most was the two receivers listed as the starters for the offense.

Prior to the game last Thursday night, DeVante Parker and Kendrick Bourne were listed in the first-team column. Although seeing Parker listed as the WR1 wasn't shocking, it was surprising to see Bourne's name there after his uninspiring 2022 season and his limited usage in training camp thus far.

The more controversial aspect of it all was seeing JuJu Smith-Schuster seemingly lose his presumed starting spot on the depth chart, which most believed was the main reason he was signed in the first place.

Maybe he was shifted to the second team due to his continued rehab for an injury sustained last season. Or perhaps it's because he hasn't fully acclimated with the playbook yet. Who knows, but it didn't take long for the list to change.

After the loss to the Texans, the depth chart was updated, and Bourne was noticeably moved back a column and replaced as a starting receiver by Smith-Schuster. Because neither played in the game, it was clearly not a result of bad performance or anything negative. However, it was a noteworthy change.

It was a move that reflected the assumption from the media and the fans, as Parker and Smith-Schuster have appeared as the top pass catchers on the team outside of the tight ends. There are still four weeks until the season begins and plenty of time for the chart to change, so maybe we'll see Bourne move up again at some point.

Hopefully, he can have a bounce-back year and revert to how he played in his first season with the Patriots. With Jakobi Meyers gone and Smith-Schuster being a newbie on the offense, Bourne has a great opportunity to prove his value to the team and bring explosiveness to the field as he did in his limited snaps last season.

The chemistry between him and Mac Jones is apparent, and it will be imperative they capitalize on that this season as questions surrounding the offensive roster continue to plague the team this summer.