PITTSBURGH — After logging just two offensive snaps in Week 1, Patriots wide receiver Kendrick Bourne’s playing time increased in Week 2.
Bourne recorded 24 offensive snaps Sunday against Pittsburgh, catching two of his three targets for 16 yards. Both of his receptions went for first downs.
“I’m just glad to be here,” Bourne said after the 17-14 victory. “Whatever I’ve got to do is literally what I’m going to do. I was more involved this week, and it was good. I’m just glad I could make the plays that came.”
Even though Bourne returned to the wide receiver rotation, he still seems to be at the bottom of the depth chart. He was on the field for 35 percent of the offense’s snaps — the lowest proportion among all offensive players. Only special teams captain Matthew Slater and rookie running back Pierre Strong took fewer offensive snaps.
Even wide receiver Lil’Jordan Humphrey, recently signed to the 53-man roster off the practice squad, logged two more snaps than Bourne.
Bourne’s role, or lack thereof, took center stage last week when he didn’t enter the game against Miami until late in the fourth quarter. Neither Bourne nor coach Bill Belichick have shared many details on the situation, both saying the reasoning behind the decrease in playing time is not disciplinary.
In 17 games last season, Bourne was on the field for 51.8 percent of the offense’s snaps and registered career-highs in receptions (55) and yards (800). Despite the apparent role change, he has continued to say all the right things.
“I just hate that it looks like it’s about me,” Bourne said Sunday. “It’s not about me. It’s about the team. I appreciate the coaches getting me involved. Even last week, it was just a situation that happened. It wasn’t no big deal.”
Other observations on the snap counts from Patriots-Steelers . . .
⋅ Wide receiver Jakobi “Mr. Steady” Meyers led all offensive skill players with 56 snaps, followed by DeVante Parker with 52. Parker’s high snap count did not correlate with production, however, as he did not record a catch on two targets. Nelson Agholor, who caught all six of his targets for 110 yards and a touchdown, logged 34 snaps.
⋅ Each member of the offensive line was on the field for 100 percent of the snaps; the unit had rotated a few positions during the season opener. Belichick said Monday he thought the pocket was “pretty clean” with “pretty good” pass protection.
⋅ Running back Rhamondre Stevenson out-snapped Damien Harris, 42-27, but the two largely split the third-down back duties with Ty Montgomery on injured reserve. Said Belichick: “We miss Ty, but both of those players have some experience in the passing game. They’re both good, they can handle the ball. We’re able to use them and still maintain all of the protections that we would usually use in those situations. We didn’t have to modify anything.”
⋅ For the second straight week, safety Devin McCourty was the lone defensive player to be on the field for 100 percent of the snaps.
⋅ Belichick complimented defensive end Deatrich Wise’s conditioning, which allowed him to play 90 percent of the snaps. Said Belichick: “He does a lot of either extra running or a lot of running during every play, finishing plays, chasing the ball down field, and things like that. He’s in good condition and is playing well for us.”
⋅ Safety Kyle Dugger took just 19 snaps before exiting the game with a knee injury in the second quarter. Fellow safety Adrian Phillips, who suffered a rib injury in Week 1, did not seem limited, recording 51.
Jones: Tight ends will have their time
New England’s tight ends combined for zero catches Sunday, but quarterback Mac Jones said during his weekly radio interview on WEEI that the team is working to find ways to get Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry the ball.
“This week was a little different, the way we approached it,” Jones said. “They’re not complaining or anything. They’re happy. They’re doing what they’re supposed to be doing on every play. When their plays come, they’ll come. They’re great players.”
There are high expectations for the tight end position, given the high price tags of both players. Smith is in the second season of a four-year, $50 million deal, while Henry is in the second of a three-year, $37.5 million contract.
For Smith, this year is an opportunity to bounce back after a disappointing first season. For Henry, it should be a continuation of the promising connection he established with Jones last season, when he led the team with nine receiving touchdowns.
“They know that their plays will come,” Jones said. “It’s a long year. That’s what I told them.”
Defensive tackle Daniel Ekuale can return from his two-game suspension (reason unknown) this week. The Patriots would need to make a corresponding transaction to move Ekuale to the 53-man roster . . . Asked if running back J.K. Dobbins will play against the Patriots this Sunday, Ravens coach John Harbaugh would not share a definitive timetable. Dobbins has yet to return to game action since tearing his ACL in August 2021. Said Harbaugh: “He’s been week-to-week the last couple of weeks, so that’s what it is. When he’s ready, he’ll be out there.”