Belichick's comments make Kendrick Bourne situation even more puzzling originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
Kendrick Bourne made the New England Patriots' best offensive play Sunday against the Miami Dolphins, hauling in a 41-pass from quarterback Mac Jones in the fourth quarter. Considering he averaged a team-high 14.5 yards per reception last season (55 catches for 800 yards), that's not surprising.
What is surprising is that Bourne played just two offensive snaps all game and didn't see the field until the fourth quarter of Sunday's 20-7 loss.
Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer recently reported that Bourne has been among the players questioning the Patriots' offensive changes internally, and the veteran wide receiver also had a rough preseason. So, was Bourne's lack of playing time a disciplinary measure, or perhaps a result of his inconsistent performance this summer?
Head coach Bill Belichick suggested neither was the case Monday morning.
"I thought KB did a great job stepping in there when we needed him. Made a big play for us," Belichick told WEEI's The Greg Hill Show. "He's a good player. And I'm sure that he'll have plenty of opportunities, as all of our skill players will, going forward. So, we'll see how it all plays out."
Maybe Belichick and the Patriots have a legitimate reason for limiting Bourne's playing time. But the veteran wide receiver suggested Sunday that he's not getting much clarity from the coaching staff.
"I play my role, so whatever I got to do, just waiting for that moment," Bourne told reporters after the game. "I don't really know. Just waiting on the opportunity."
When asked directly why Bourne didn't play until the fourth quarter, Belichick played coy.
"It just kind of worked out that way," Belichick said. "It wasn't anything that was specifically avoided. It just didn't work out."
It'd be one thing if the Patriots were loaded at wide receiver and could afford to sideline Bourne. But Jakobi Meyers, Nelson Agholor and DeVante Parker combined for just eight catches in Miami, with Parker having a particularly rough day (one catch for nine yards).
Bourne arguably is New England's most dynamic wide receiver, and he proved as much Sunday with his 41-yard reception when the Patriots finally gave him a chance. The team either needs to give him more playing time going forward or find a trade partner for him before the NFL trade deadline.
If we take Belichick at his word, then we should see Bourne on the field more next weekend against the Pittsburgh Steelers.