October 1, 2023


Kendrick Bourne continues to construct his sport after a sluggish begin throughout coaching camp.

Kendrick Bourne reeled in three catches throughout Saturday’s preseason sport towards the Packers. (AP Photograph/Matt Ludtke)

The Patriots solely have another preseason sport left on their docket, with New England set to go to Tennessee later this week to tackle the Titans on Friday night time.

With preseason bouts beginning to wind down and roster cuts on the horizon, right here’s a take a look at who’s rising and falling on New England’s depth chart.

Stock Up

WR Kendrick Bourne 

At one level early in coaching camp, Bourne appeared like a possible roster-bubble candidate.

After a disappointing 2022 season during which he was largely phased out of New England’s offensive scheme, Bourne opened camp with restricted touches throughout his first-team reps with Mac Jones. 

Add within the strides put forth by rookies in Demario Douglas and Kayshon Boutte, and Bourne ran the danger of being on the skin wanting in at Invoice O’Brien’s revamped offense.

However give credit score the place it’s due. After a sluggish begin, a motivated Bourne is wanting increasingly more like a difference-maker for New England.

The 28-year-old wideout — who accrued 800 receiving yards throughout Jones’s rookie season in 2021 — caught three passes from Jones for 34 yards throughout Saturday’s preseason contest towards the Packers.

Bourne helped New England achieve a primary down by reeling in a fast cross off a slant route throughout one among New England’s run-pass choice performs. He later hauled down a excessive throw from Jones for one more first-down conversion whereas Jones confronted loads of strain.

Bourne may also probably earn loads of kudos from New England’s teaching employees for doling out this block that led to a 23-yard run from Rhamondre Stevenson.

If Bourne can revert again to the participant that was as soon as one among Jones’s most reliable targets, an already rejuvenated Patriots offense ought to obtain one other shot within the arm.

“He had spring,” Invoice Belichick mentioned of Bourne on Monday. “That spring led into having coaching camp. He’s finished very effectively in all phases of the sport. He’s performed a number of spots, caught the ball effectively, blocked effectively. He’s had camp.”

S Jalen Mills

The Patriots can’t simply flip to at least one participant to account for the lack of Devin McCourty within the defensive backfield.

However as New England continues to cycle in a number of contributors of their secondary, veteran Jalen Mills continues to impress as he shifts again from cornerback to his acquainted place of security.

Mills has seen loads of snaps thus far throughout preseason play as a nickel on New England’s protection, with the 29-year-old taking advantage of the additional freedom he will get when the ball is snapped.

He has the on-field consciousness and velocity to shut in on opposing wideouts and pluck passes out of the air, as was the case towards C.J. Stroud throughout New England’s preseason opener towards the Texans.

However Mills has additionally proven a knack for including some further thump towards the run. In each of his appearances thus far this preseason, he has negated some potential chunk yardage on the bottom by manner of some well timed tackles.

Mills ought to proceed to impress in a revamped secondary that can also be seeing different gamers like Jabrill Peppers and Kyle Dugger proceed to take optimistic steps ahead.

OL Riley Reiff

It hasn’t been the very best begin for Reiff in his first season in New England, with the 34-year-old veteran struggling at occasions in his common spot at deal with throughout camp and preseason motion.

However on one other night time the place New England’s O-line was susceptible to some momentum-sapping miscues, Reiff was regular in his new function at proper guard throughout Saturday’s preseason matchup.

According to Pro Football Focus’ Louie Benjamin, Reiff logged 31 snaps towards the Packers and didn’t give up a strain or get beat. 

Sure, Reiff was signed by New England in hopes of both shoring up the group’s emptiness at proper deal with or, on the very least, serving as much-needed insurance coverage as a main backup on the skin of the Patriots’ O-line.

However as New England tries to place collectively the jigsaw puzzle that’s its beginning O-line, Reiff’s promising exhibiting at RG a minimum of offers the group choices. 

When Mike Onwenu does return from the PUP checklist, slotting him over at proper deal with may give New England its finest five-man unit in Trent Brown (LT), Cole Unusual (LG), David Andrews (C), Reiff (RG) and Onwenu. 

P Bryce Baringer 

Very similar to fellow rookie Chad Ryland, Baringer probably has a leg up in his special-teams competitors with a veteran (Corliss Waitman) because of the energy in his leg.

However Baringer’s possibilities of snagging New England’s beginning punter spot took a slight hit earlier this week after just a few so-so performances throughout joint practices towards the Packers.

However a few of these issues had been alleviated on Saturday night time, as Baringer completely booted just a few balls and routinely pinned Inexperienced Bay manner again in its personal zone.

In whole, Baringer’s two punts on Saturday traveled a mixed 120 yards.

His first try sailed 59 yards and landed on the Packers’ 14-yard line. His second providing went 61 yards, with Samori Toure snagging it on the 14-yard line. Toure solely made it three yards earlier than Patriots special-teams common Brenden Schooler took him down.

These follow miscues received’t imply all that a lot for Baringer if he continues to blast the ball far down the gridiron.

Honorable Mentions: J.J. Taylor, Christian Gonzalez, Myles Bryant, Kayshon Boutte

Inventory Down

New England’s youthful offensive linemen

Sure, maybe it’s a cop-out in casting a large internet with this “down” designation.

However as Belichick, Adrian Klemm and the remainder of New England’s teaching employees proceed to seek for viable backup choices on the O-line, the group’s giant grouping of first and second-year gamers haven’t precisely made probably the most of their reps.

Two of Mac Jones’s three drives on Saturday night time in Lambeau Area had been undone by porous cross safety that resulted in sacks.

Second-year professional Andrew Stueber surrendered the most expensive miscue throughout Jones’s reps. Slotting in for Brown at left deal with, Steuber was beat clear by Packers linebacker Kingsley Enagbare on one snap, with Enagbare taking down Jones for a strip sack. Inexperienced Bay recovered the ball, ending Jones’s night time on a poor be aware.

Rookie Sidy Sow, already handed the powerful process of switching from guard to deal with up on the NFL ranks, was additionally beat by Enagbare earlier within the sport.

With New England seeking to lengthen a drive on a third-and-9 scenario, Engabare powered by Sow with one arm en path to a takedown of Jones that compelled a punt.

Sure, it’s to be anticipated for youthful gamers like Sow to take their lumps throughout their first reps towards NFL opponents.

Nonetheless, this early play from New England’s O-line reserves additional stresses simply how catastrophic issues may get for the Patriots if any of their anticipated starters are compelled to overlook important time throughout regular-season motion.

RB Kevin Harris

The arrival of Ezekiel Elliott may make a number of different Patriots operating backs expendable over the following few weeks.

Earlier than New England opted to signal Elliott to a one-year deal, the Patriots turned to second-year backs in Kevin Harris and Pierre Robust throughout coaching camp to be able to see if both participant may step in behind Stevenson on the depth chart.

To this point, these outcomes have been underwhelming. And whereas Robust is at present sidelined because of a reported concussion, Harris hasn’t popped thus far throughout preseason motion this summer season. The 2022 sixth-round decide led the Patriots with 10 speeding makes an attempt on Saturday, however solely averaged 3.1 yards per carry.

The robust play of J.J. Taylor in Inexperienced Bay (4 rushes for 29 yards, three receptions for 27 yards) may result in the 5-foot-6 operating again leapfrogging gamers like Harris on the depth chart.

With Elliott including some much-needed pass-catching capabilities to New England’s running-back corps, a veteran like Ty Montgomery (sidelined for many of camp because of damage) may additionally discover himself on the roster bubble.

DT Sam Roberts

The second-year defensive deal with out of Northwest Missouri State was already on the roster bubble this week, due partly to the depth New England already boasts throughout its D-line.

However Roberts’s undisciplined play actually received’t assist his case of attempting to make the 53-man roster within the coming weeks.

Regardless of just a few strong performs towards the run, Roberts hampered his group with two expensive penalties on Saturday.

Whereas Packers QB Jordan Love slid on the finish of a scramble play, Roberts landed atop him in an undisciplined (and harmful) transfer, costing New England an extra 15 yards. Roberts was later whistled for unlawful use of fingers.

There’s nonetheless loads to love about what Roberts can deliver to a sport as a thumper within the trenches. However given the variety of veterans in entrance of him, Roberts was going to should put his finest foot ahead all through this preseason slate. Saturday’s decision-making didn’t assist him in any respect.

LB Mack Wilson 

Though New England opened Saturday’s sport with a number of of their starters on protection taking the sector, the outcomes had been very combined.

Regardless of recovering a fumble on Inexperienced Bay’s first drive (a self-inflicted miscue by Love), New England’s protection was diced up at numerous factors by the Packers.

Granted, Love delivered some spectacular throws towards tight protection. However New England has little excuse for the poor run protection they displayed up entrance. Within the first quarter alone, Inexperienced Bay averaged 4.7 yards per carry.

Established veterans like Davon Godchaux probably didn’t benefit from the movie session following Saturday’s sport, however New England’s linebackers like Mack Wilson actually struggled to leap in as the following layer of protection within the trenches.

We’re nonetheless ready for rookie Marte Mapu to take to the sector in a sport setting, however New England’s linebacker depth is very skinny when Ja’Whaun Bentley just isn’t on the market operating the present.