FOXBOROUGH — Kendrick Bourne plays with passion. And he practices the same way.
The Patriots leader in receiving yards (562) has built chemistry with rookie Mac Jones going back to spring workouts. Bourne said Wednesday it’s an ongoing process and one of the biggest keys to his success in his first year in New England is the preparation.
“It starts at practice. We just try to be on top all the time. Everything we do is just trying to do it as perfect as we can and make it as easy as we can,”’ he said. “Me running my route perfectly, all I focus on is my technique so that I can make that throw as easy as possible for him so when he sees the window — and Mac is really [good] at putting it on the spot — so I don’t need 10 yards, 5 yards of separation. I just need to be in front of the guy and [Mac] does a pretty good job of making it happen.’’
One of the most energetic guys on a team full of them, Bourne said he shares his philosophy with his teammates.
“So, always practicing hard, practicing how we play, I say that all the time out there to the guys, ‘let’s practice how we play, let’s practice how we play.’ And the results come from that.’’
Bourne has emerged as a versatile weapon in the Patriots offense. He threw the first pass of his career (for a touchdown) earlier this season and also has been used as a rusher over the last two games.
“It’s definitely new for me. I never really ran the ball how they use me here. I enjoy it, I love it,’’ he said. “It gives us versatility and Josh [McDaniels] just does a really good job of doing it at the perfect time. He’ll run right, right, right and we’ll come back and go left, and defenses are just confused, they don’t really know what’s going on. So, it’s just about me getting better in that role, too. I could rush better, do things better. But he uses all of us well. It’s not just me rushing the ball, it’s just a different threat and defenses hate it.’’
He recalled the first time McDaniels approached him about expanding his repertoire.
“It was kind of exciting, man. I want to be everything they want me to be. I want to grow as they plan. That’s everything for any player,’’ Bourne said. “What they expect from you, you want to do to the best of your ability. When you get better at it, it just feels better, it gets easier, and you get more confident.’’
Praise from Vrabel
Titans coach Mike Vrabel gushed about the blocking prowess of New England’s receivers, who have been key to helping unlock the downfield gridlock and create running room for the ball carriers.
“Their receivers are probably the best blocking wide receivers in the league,’’ Vrabel said during a conference call. “When your leading receiver is your best blocker, that makes for a good combination.’’
Asked if he was referring to Jakobi Meyers (he leads the Patriots with 54 catches), Vrabel’s voice rose slightly.
“Absolutely,’’ he said. “He goes in there, he’s fearless. And [N’Keal] Harry’s a good blocker as a receiver, but Jakobi Meyers goes in there and he’s goes in there with a purpose.’’
The Patriots had full attendance at their full padded practice session Wednesday.
The following players were listed as limited: linebackers Dont’a Hightower (ankle), Kyle Van Noy (groin), and Ja’Whaun Bentley (ribs); defensive lineman Christian Barmore (knee); right tackle Trent Brown (calf); right guard Shaq Mason (abdomen); tight ends Jonnu Smith (shoulder) and Hunter Henry (neck); running back Damien Harris (neck); punter Jake Bailey (right knee); and kicker Nick Folk (left knee).
Additionally, outside linebacker Tashawn Bower, who had three tackles, including a sack, in two games as an elevation from the practice squad, was signed to the Vikings active roster.
Seymour, Wilfork in Hall semifinals
Richard Seymour and Vince Wilfork, two of the Patriots all-time best defensive linemen, made the semifinal cut for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. It’s the fifth time Seymour has been a semifinalist and he is considered one of the favorites to slip on a gold jacket in 2022. This is the first time Wilfork has reached semifinal status. A surprise omission was former New England safety Rodney Harrison. “He should get in,’’ Vrabel said. Great teammate. Great player. I learned a lot from Rodney.’’ … Cornerback J.C. Jackson, center David Andrews, and long snapper Joe Cardona lead their respective positions in AFC Pro Bowl voting. Colts running back Jonathan Taylor (81,087) is the leading overall vote getter and the Cowboys have received the most votes of any team. The Patriots are second.