NFL News & Analysis

NFL Rumor Roundup: Explaining Kendrick Bourne's strange summer, Jets 'desperate' for help at tackle and more

Paradise, Nevada, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver Kendrick Bourne (84) is tackled by Las Vegas Raiders cornerback Sam Webb (48) in the first half at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

• New England Patriots WR Kendrick Bourne played just two snaps in the team's season-opening loss, a workload related to him being late to a team meeting, a source told PFF's Doug Kyed.

• One source said the New York Jets are “desperate” for help at left tackle after injuries have decimated the position. Duane Brown and Mekhi Becton (season-ending) are both out due to injuries.

• The Las Vegas Raiders are in need of reinforcements at both linebacker and cornerback due to injuries and a subsequent lack of depth.

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EXPLAINING KENDRICK BOURNE’S LACK OF PLAYING TIME

Bourne was the New England Patriots’ second-leading receiver in 2021 but played just two offensive snaps in Week 1 against the Miami Dolphins. On one of those snaps, Bourne caught a 41-yard deep pass from Mac Jones. He was taken off the field before the next play.

It wasn’t an ideal summer for Bourne, who was ejected from a joint practice with the Carolina Panthers for fighting and then was forced to sit out of New England’s preseason game with Carolina after being late to a meeting, according to a source with knowledge of the situation. He entered the season fourth on the wide receiver depth chart behind DeVante Parker, who was acquired in a trade with the Dolphins this offseason, the ever-consistent Jakobi Meyers and Nelson Agholor, New England’s highest-paid wideout.

The Patriots played 26 of their 56 offensive snaps in 12 personnel, leaving just 142 total offensive snaps for wide receivers. Parker played 56 snaps, Meyers played 49 and Agholor played 32. Bourne and Lil’Jordan Humphrey, a pseudo tight end who was used as a run-blocker on two of his three snaps, divvied up five snaps. That fact that Bourne played at all on offense indicates that his reduced role was more of a numbers issue than anything else. Head coach Bill Belichick said after the game that Bourne’s lack of Week 1 playing time was not a disciplinary measure.

New England underwent change in its offensive coaching ranks, and much of the trust and goodwill Bourne had built last season was with coaches who left the team this offseason. Former offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels is now head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders, and he brought with him former Patriots wide receivers coach Mick Lombardi as offensive coordinator. Bourne didn’t have significant history with new offensive assistants Matt Patricia and Joe Judge, but he’s still well-regarded by Belichick and quarterback Mac Jones. The Patriots are not afraid to make changes early in the season, and while it’s no guarantee, the sense is that Bourne should see more playing time as the year progresses.

The Patriots did receive interest from wide-receiver-needy teams this offseason but chose to hold onto their depth at the position. Rookie Tyquan Thornton is expected back from a collarbone injury this season, which would add one more capable wide receiver into the mix.


JETS BACK ON THE OFFENSIVE TACKLE HUNT

The New York Jets lost starting left tackle Mekhi Becton for the season in training camp and signed Duane Brown to replace him. Now Brown is on injured reserve and must miss at least the next three games after injuring his shoulder prior to Week 1. George Fant started Week 1 at left tackle and earned a 60.1 PFF grade. Max Mitchell, a 2022 fourth-round pick out of Louisiana, started at right tackle and earned a paltry 48.9 PFF grade.

Conor McDermott, the lone Jets backup tackle on the 53-man roster, was inactive Sunday after being limited with an ankle injury. Grant Hermanns, a 2021 undrafted free agent, was elevated from the practice squad to back up Fant and Mitchell.

The Jets were recently looking for more depth at offensive tackle, per multiple sources, but the supply is limited, and they struck out on a player they were interested in adding. One source said they’re “desperate for help” at the position after losing Becton and Brown. At the same time, it's understandable if they don't want to invest more significant capital at the position after signing Brown to a two-year, $20 million contract.

Two examples from Tuesday alone illustrate how limited the supply of offensive tackle help has gotten around the NFL. The Patriots signed 34-year-old Marcus Cannon, who hasn't played since last October and didn't participate in any training camp or preseason, to their practice squad. The Green Bay Packers added an 11th offensive lineman to their 53-man roster Tuesday when they signed rookie undrafted free agent Caleb Jones off of their practice squad to avoid him being poached by another team. It was surprising when Jones, who's listed at 6-foot-9, 370 pounds, initially passed through waivers after he posted an 85.0 PFF grade this preseason while playing all of his snaps at left tackle.


RAIDERS DEFENSE IN FLUX

Three recent moves by the Las Vegas Raiders were unsurprising: their decisions to work out veteran linebacker Jamie Collins Sr. last week, claim cornerback Javelin Guidry on Monday and sign cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman on Tuesday.

The Raiders were already digging around for potential linebacker help before Denzel Perryman injured his ankle Week 1 against the Los Angeles Chargers. Perryman was described as “day-to-day” with the injury, leaving Las Vegas with four fully healthy linebackers in Jayon Brown, Divine Deablo and rookies Darien Butler and Luke Masterson.

Las Vegas is also shallow at cornerback after Anthony Averett landed on injured reserve with a broken thumb and after having traded Trayvon Mullen to the Arizona Cardinals. Amik Robertson was the first man off the bench but is undersized at 5-foot-8. Guidry, at 5-foot-9, and Robey-Coleman, at 5-foot-8, also are on the shorter side. Undrafted rookie Sam Webb fills out the depth at cornerback on the 53-man roster with Isaiah Brown and Bryce Cosby on the practice squad. Webb, who’s 6-foot-1, seems to be a player on the rise. He played very well this summer, impressing the team while earning a 76.4 preseason PFF grade.

Averett's injury could open the door to more outside snaps for Nate Hobbs, Las Vegas’ best defensive back. But one source said the plan is to put Hobbs “where the play goes.” In Week 1, Hobbs earned an 84.5 grade from the slot and inside the box and a 70.0 grade at wide cornerback, culminating in an 83.8 overall grade. He let up just one catch on two targets for five yards with a pass breakup in coverage. Hobbs was a rookie standout in Las Vegas last season with an 80.1 PFF grade.

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