The 4 Patriots players with the most to prove before and during the 2023 season

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Kendrick Bourne

Unfortunately for Kendrick Bourne, he finds himself in nearly the same position that Mac Jones is heading into this upcoming season.

Although he may not play what is deemed to be the most important position on the field, the Patriots have been endlessly searching over the last few years to find productive and reliable receivers to elevate their offense.

Bourne looked like the right guy for the job during his first season in New England, becoming the number two guy just behind Jakobi Meyers. His catch percentage, touchdown total, yards per game, and yards per reception were the best of his career and put him straight on the path to potentially stealing the unofficial title as Jones' favorite target.

But like Jones, the addition of Matt Patricia as the offensive play-caller took a toll on his performance.

After completing that memorable 2021 season, Bourne barely saw the field the following year. Some of it may have to do with his mindset and effort, as the receiver said as much last week after OTAs, but a lot of it had to do with a rumored season-long feud with Patricia that began during the summer.

Despite knowing how much of a playmaker Bourne was for the team, Patricia chose to constantly keep him sidelined each and every week. So much so there were even some games where he was on the field for just one snap.

Throughout the season, the media continued to ask him about his limited usage in hopes of (probably) getting some off-the-cuff, untraditional Patriots answer. However, Bourne remained mostly tight-lipped, sharing an optimistic viewpoint while also acknowledging his frustrations.

Now that Patricia is gone and Bill O'Brien is in, there is hope he will better utilize Bourne's skillset and implement him far better than last season. And although that may become a reality, he still has much to prove before the season begins.

Can he become a reliable target for Jones again?

Will he be able to better deal with frustrations compared to last year?

And will he put in the work required to demonstrate why he should remain on the team?

Only his performance over the next three months can determine those answers. Hopefully, Bourne realizes the magnitude of this opportunity and proves why he's an important asset on this offense.