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Kendrick Bourne focused on a bounce-back season

Patriots receiver Kendrick Bourne likes what he's seen from the team's offense this spring and hopes it will be a springboard for a more productive 2023.

Patriots wide receiver Kendrick Bourne (84).
Patriots wide receiver Kendrick Bourne (84).

With three days of minicamp looming next week, the Patriots wrapped up their final optional OTA practice of the spring on Friday. It was another light session that featured just a couple of quasi-competitive periods between the offense and defense, while special teams got the bulk of the work. Interceptions by Kyle Dugger and rookie Marte Mapu highlighted the wrap-up day that still featured some nice connections by the offense, including multiple grabs from the surprising Raleigh Webb and rookie Ed Lee, as the duo made the most of their opportunities.

New offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien has been a fixture on the sidelines, calling in plays via a walkie-talkie as the installation of his attack enters its final phase before a long break leads into training camp at the end of July. For his part, veteran receiver Kendrick Bourne felt the offense was on the right track and ready to not only bounce back from a disappointing overall season where they finished in the bottom half of the league in all important categories but also a season in which Bourne disappointed himself.

"I didn't give the team my best effort," admitted Bourne about 2022. "Personally we as players have to be our best so we can give the team the opportunity to win and I feel like I didn't do that. So I've been grinding, trying to get bigger, weighing more, just being a more solid receiver and being able to do more.

"I don't really go off stats, I go off how I feel, how I look and I just wasn't in a good place, now I just want to avoid that. So it was a good learning process, it was good that it happened to me, and it's always good to learn from hard times, struggling times."

Bourne has looked noticeably bigger as he continues to lay the groundwork to put the 35-catch, 434-yard season in which he caught just one touchdown behind him.

"New year, new me, new us, new everything," said Bourne flashing his trademark grin. "That's what we're focused on, that's the goal every year, to move forward and be better."

O'Brien's arrival has been a welcome one for the seventh-year wideout, as the experienced coach has a firm grasp of how he wants it all to come together, a focus and confidence that is already apparent to the receiver and rubbing off on everyone during the install.

"Just Bill's familiar with what he's doing so it feels good. You can tell he knows what he's doing in all areas of the offense, from receiver, running back, lineman... He knows offense a lot so it feels good.

"He knows how to engage with all of us I feel like. He knows our traits now and he knows where to puts us so it's been good. We're still learning each other as a group but he's doing well."

While there's been a shift in coaching on the offensive side of the ball, a familiar phrase continues to pop up, just like it did last year... playing fast. Speed is the name of the game these days and already some dynamic elements are popping up in these OTA practices. Despite the changes to the offensive coaching staff, the end goals for the offense sound similar.

When asked what that final product might look like on offense, Bourne responded, "Just being fast, man. Just being consistent, not being one-dimensional. Being versatile in what we do.

"It feels good, it feels fast, just exciting, everybody's on the same page, you can feel the growth already. That's the most exciting part. I feel like we're going to know exactly what we're doing and figure out who we are quickly."

As for reports of free agent DeAndre Hopkins coming to New England for a visit, Bourne was ready to welcome the star receiver with open arms.

"Yeah I'm a fan of D-Hop, I don't really know the gist of what's going on but he's a great player," said Bourne. "He's just a great leader, it'd be cool to play with a great player so anything that will help us win I'm with."

But even without another addition to the receiver room, Bourne felt like Mac Jones and the rest of the offense are already on the right track.

"I feel like last year was tough for all of us," said Bourne. "It's all about us growing. I see the growth, I see the focus from everybody, it's different this year. Ready to make it count this year."

DISCLAIMER: The views and thoughts expressed in this article are those of the writer and don't necessarily reflect those of the organization. Read Full Disclaimer

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