By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Sunday afternoon was a profitable one for Patriots wide receiver Kendrick Bourne, and it was also a valuable learning experience.
In the middle of the fourth quarter, and with the Patriots leading 44-3, Bourne caught a pass from Brian Hoyer on a short crossing route. After making the catch, Bourne slipped through the tackling attempt of one defender, propped himself up with his hand, gained an extra yard or two, and began fighting through another tackle.
It was then that Jaguars linebacker Jamir Jones came out of nowhere to deliver an incredibly violent hit directly to the receiver’s face.
Where's the helmet-to-helmet penalty on this play??? Kendrick Bourne just got lit up and no flag was thrown pic.twitter.com/xg4PUUZgJ7
— Ben Brown (@BenBrownPL) January 2, 2022
Fortunately for Bourne, he escaped unscathed. The broadcast showed him smiling and laughing on the sidelines later in the game, and he tweeted this after the 50-10 win: “That was deff the hardest I’ve been hit lol but ima G!”
On Wednesday, at the very end of his virtual media session with Patriots reporters, Bourne was able to laugh about the play that led to him receiving the hardest hit of his life. And he actually said there was a good side to taking a hit like that.
“I didn’t know that guy was there. He was running from behind me so when I spun, that’s when I saw him, when I finally like turned halfway. And then boom,” Bourne recalled. “But that was definitely the hardest I’ve ever been hit. But it was like cool, because I’ve never been hit that hard. So I was like, ‘OK, now I know what not to do and when to do it.'”
Considering the score and the game situation, Bourne said he learned that there are certain times where it’s OK to accept the fact that a play is over and that one extra yard won’t make a difference.
“The journey was over and I should’ve just went down. And that’s exactly what I get for trying to do too much,” Bourne said through a laugh.
Bourne also tweeted this week that he’s retiring the spin move from his repertoire.
“It’s just about being more smooth,” he said. “Spin moves are good moves, but it’s just about doing it at the right time. And that was the wrong time.”
Outside of getting cracked in the middle of the football field, it’s been a successful first season in New England for Bourne. He set new career highs in receptions (52) and receiving yards (776) while tying his career high of five touchdowns. He’s also gained 117 rushing yards on 11 attempts, after having zero rushing attempts through his first four NFL seasons. And he’s a perfect passer, going 1-for-1 for 25 yards and a touchdown against the Jets in October.
Bourne said it’s been an ideal situation in New England since his signing, with his coaches helping him be a better player.
“I will say my coaches first, man, how they challenge me every day. I come in here, I’m challenged. Like I know I’m gonna be tested today, somehow, some way. And I enjoy that the most. I think that’s what has made me progress the best,” Bourne said. “Just being out here in the city and everything like that, it’s been awesome, too. The fans and everybody’s been welcoming me with open arms. And, you know, when you make plays, it’s better. I want to make plays. I want to do the right thing, do everything right, so things go right for the team and for myself. So I would say my coaches, the way they’ve pushed me, the way they’ve challenged me, the way they’ve developed me. And for me to get better is what I appreciate most and I feel like why I’ve been successful so far. So shoutout to those guys, man. They do a tremendous job. And my job is to just do what they ask, because they’re setting me up for success. So if I can listen and apply it every day and then go into the game, I’m gonna have success. So shoutout to my coaches.”