Patriots Notes: How Kendrick Bourne Became Pats’ Energizer Bunny

Plus: How will the Patriots handle their O-line this week?


October 15, 2021

Some assorted notes and nuggets from Friday’s New England Patriots media availability:

— Kendrick Bourne rarely is seen without a wide smile on his face. Head coach Bill Belichick raved about the positive energy the wide receiver has brought to the Patriots.

“KB has got some good energy,” Belichick said. “He brings that out to the practice field every day. It’s fun to have that type of personality and energy interjected into the team. He works hard. … I have a lot of respect for the way he approaches the game and his work ethic on the practice field.”

Where does that attitude come from? Bourne, who signed this offseason after four years with the San Francisco 49ers, said it’s his way of showing appreciation.

“It’s just who I’ve been since I was younger,” Bourne said, “and once I got to the league and reached my dream goal, you know, that’s when it was like, ‘Bro, what are we pouting about? What are we sad about?’ You know? I’m not saying I have everything perfect going off the field, not saying everything is all glitz and glamour, I have my down days, of course. But anybody in the world would love to be where I’m at, and that’s how I think every day.

“There’s plenty of kids out there that are trying to get to exactly where I’m at and even to come here, and the Patriots accept me for who I am and do the things they’ve done for me, it’s just a dream come true, man. And like I said, it’s not easy keeping this energy, you know, because we all go through emotions, we all feel ups and downs, but we are in full control of how we smile, how we act, whatever it may be, we’re in control. So that’s my mindset, man. It’s to come out here, be positive, and good things happen. Ever since I’ve felt like that, I’ve seen myself gradually elevate.”

Bourne has emerged as a productive and reliable target for rookie quarterback Mac Jones, catching 14 passes on 16 targets for 180 yards and a touchdown over his last three games. Only fellow wideout Jakobi Meyers has more receiving yards during that span, and only Meyers and tight end Hunter Henry have more catches.

“Some of the things we’ve asked him to do, I feel like he’s really improved with,” Belichick said. “He’s got some good skills. Good quickness. He’s got length. Good target. Catches the ball well. He’s quick. Good skill set, and a guy who’s continued to work hard and get better every single day.”

— Veteran guard Ted Karras was visibly euphoric after the Patriots rallied to beat the Houston Texans last Sunday, emphatically celebrating as he left the field at NRG Stadium.

Karras’ excitement was understandable. He played every snap Sunday in place of injured right guard Shaq Mason, and New England’s cobbled-together offensive line delivered its best performance of the season despite missing four starters.

“I mean, that is, I think, one of the sweetest feelings ever,” Karras said. “Winning an NFL football game is a culmination of a lot of hard work and sacrifice from a lot of guys that you care about, and to show that on Sunday and have a quantifiable way to celebrate with a victory is very special to me. And we’re continuing to do it this week, and Sunday, we want to emulate that and build off it and get another one. Doesn’t stop in this league.”

Karras likely will be in the starting lineup again this week with Mason ruled out for Sunday’s matchup with the Dallas Cowboys.

Belichick spoke at length Friday about the value Karras and practice squadder James Ferentz — a longtime Patriots backup who started at left guard against Houston — bring to the roster.

“The experience that Ted and James brought to that with relatively little playing time (behind) Shaq and Mike this year, we were really fortunate that they were able to step in there and do that,” Belichick said. “… We’re very fortunate to have Ted and James, two guys that have a lot of experience in our system and both played center, so that’s also helpful because if you know what’s going on as a center and understand the whole protection, that certainly helps you when playing guard.”

The Patriots still will be light at tackle this week with Trent Brown on injured reserve and Isaiah Wynn yet to return from the reserve/COVID-19 list. Backup left tackle Justin Herron also missed practice Thursday and is listed as questionable with an abdomen injury.

Left guard Mike Onwenu should be back in the lineup this week after being activated off the COVID list.

“We’ll take it day to day,” Belichick said when asked about the O-line. “We’ll see where things are at (Friday). That’s all we can do. Just go day to day. … That’s still a little bit of a moving target here.”

— The Patriots officially promoted linebacker Jahlani Tavai from the practice squad to the 53-man roster on Wednesday, filling the spot vacated by Brown’s move to IR.

Drafted in the second round in 2016 by Matt Patricia’s Detroit Lions, Tavai rejoined Patricia in New England after being cut by the Lions in August. He was temporarily elevated for two games, playing nine defensive snaps in a Week 3 loss to the Dallas Cowboys and one in a Week 4 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

“Jahlani has gained experience,” Belichick said. “He’s a player that’s played, just relative to coming in here at the end of August, and been able to transfer some of the terminology and fundamentals that we used relative to what he did in Detroit. He was active, but Tavai’s showed up every week and continues to make progress in the overall understanding of what we’re doing and handles different roles to provide versatility for our team.”

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