Where does Kendrick Bourne stand with Patriots? Troy Brown talks addresses WR's struggles

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Where does Kendrick Bourne stand with Patriots? WR coach weighs in originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Kendrick Bourne appeared on track to be one of Mac Jones' top targets in 2022. But the preseason has tempered those expectations a bit.

The New England Patriots wide receiver had a rough summer, getting kicked out of a joint practice with the Carolina Panthers and not suiting up in the teams' preseason game. Our Phil Perry reported the Patriots received calls from teams interested trading for Bourne, which suggests those teams thought Bourne might be expendable.

Patriots wide receivers coach Troy Brown admitted Bourne has fallen short of expectations this offseason but declined to say how that may impact his regular-season playing time.

Perry: Five bold predictions for your 2022 Patriots

"Obviously, he hasn’t had the type of offseason that he had last year, but he’s been working at it just like everybody else,” Brown told reporters Monday in a video conference. "... As we go into the first game here, he’s getting more and more reps. We’re going to play the guys who deserve to play."

Bourne will have plenty of competition in the wide receiver room from Jakobi Meyers, DeVante Parker and Nelson Agholor, while tight ends Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith should feature heavily in the passing game as well. Entering Week 1 against the Miami Dolphins, Bourne seems to be the third or fourth receiver on the depth chart, but Brown insisted there's no direct cause for that slide.

"I think he’s been making some plays here and there," Brown said. "But for the most part, he’s just been working as hard as the other guys have been working. He hasn’t done anything wrong, or bad, or anything like that. It's just, we’ve had some other guys that have made some plays throughout the course of camp here, and they’re all out there competing and fighting.

" ... I tell these guys every week: Take advantage of every rep that you get."

Bourne set career highs in receptions (55) and receiving yards (800) with the Patriots last season, so he's clearly capable of success in New England. If the Patriots like what they see when he's on the field in Miami, he should be rewarded with more playing time.

Then again, if Bourne continues to underperform, they won't give him reps just because he's on a three-year, $15 million contract. So, the message to Bourne entering 2022 appears to be, "Prove it."

"There’s no named person that’s going to be out there playing more than another person," Brown added. "It’s just going to be whoever earns the right to go out there and play. They’re going to be the guys who play for us on Sundays."