With Wide receiver Kendrick Bourne sidelined, the New England Patriots are going to need some serious help in replacing his production.
Bourne had been the club’s leading receiver by a significant margin prior to getting injured, having hauled in 37 passes for 406 yards and 4 touchdowns, well ahead of the club’s next closest player in Hunter Henry.
The veteran tight end has caught 23 passes for 238 yards and two touchdowns, but when it comes to the rest of the club’s pass catchers, it hasn’t even been close.
Neither JuJu Smith-Schuster or DeVante Parker have broken more than 160 yards for the season, with Smith-Schuster sitting on 15 catches for 89 yards and the touchdown he scored Sunday in Miami, while Parker has 15 catches of his own for 158 yards.
Both have battled injuries, with Parker likely to miss time again this weekend after suffering a concussion against the Dolphins. Smith-Schuster still appears to be hampered coming off of offseason knee surgery, albeit he’s yet to show up on the injury report with any lingering issues.
With Bourne as their lone dynamic target, his loss after suffering an ACL tear last weekend certainly stings. It also means that they’ll need some help from other players.
Two names that will potentially be called upon will be second-year receiver Tyquan Thornton and rookie Kayshon Boutte, who will each likely see more action in the coming weeks.
O’Brien noted that in Thornton’s case, injuries have been his biggest issue, and it’s made it tough for him to break back into the line-up given how much some of the other guys have played, along with where he was on the depth chart.
For Boutte, that one’s been a little tougher. He hasn’t seen action since Week 1 when DeVante Parker was sidelined, missing two receptions after failing to get two feet down in bounds against Philadelphia, one of which came in the waning moments during New England’s failed comeback bid.
That was nearly two months ago, and a lot has certainly changed since then.
Suddenly, the door appears open for a chance at redemption. It’s hard to say why we haven’t seen him since week one, save for the fact it’s just been a crowded group. There were some questions about him coming out of school ahead of the draft, but it sounds like it’s just potentially been an issue of Boutte getting comfortable with things here at the pro level.
That was something offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien alluded to on Tuesday, and the rookie wideout did receive some words of encouragement from his coach ahead of Sunday’s game.
“He’s coachable. He’s out there every day,” said O’Brien of Boutte. “I think, rookies, I’ve always said that a rookie receiver, it’s a very difficult transition. Especially on the perimeter because in college football, you’re not always seeing the same type of coverages that you see in professional football. That’s just the way it is.”
“Sometimes, the transition to pro football is a little bit tougher, takes a little bit longer, but Kayshon has worked very hard, and he’s shown glimpses of what he can be, and I believe in him, and I believe he’s got a good future.”
We’ll see if either of these two can potentially become factors as the Patriots try and make the most of their final nine games of 2023.
(Editor’s Note: Portions of the above appeared in this morning’s News and Notes column.)
Posted Under: Patriots News
Tags: Kayshon Boutte