FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Thoughts and quick notes on the New England Patriots and the NFL:
1. Take it home: This promises to be the best Mother’s Day for Luisa Turner. A gift of her life from her son, Patriots wide receiver Kendrick Bourne, makes it so.
Turner will spend the day at his new home in Oregon, which Bourne purchased for his parents just a few weeks ago.
While it’s much larger than her previous two-bedroom, one-bath residence, and has everything from a basketball court to a hot tub and sauna, what that space represents is what means the most to Mom.
“When I walked in, I felt at home. I could see my life: my grandchildren here, my children here,” she said. “My heart warms that he did this for his family.”
Bourne, who has three siblings, had told his parents, Luisa and Eric, about his dream of buying them a house. He asked them to explore different possibilities and let him know what they found.
That’s when he decided to add a fun touch to everything.
When Luisa told him this was the one, Bourne relayed that he talked to the realtor and they may not be able to close the deal based on another offer. So he identified a different house for them to consider.
Luisa was grateful, of course, but the location of the second option was not so preferable because it was not so close to Kendrick’s residence in Oregon.
Finally, Kendrick took his parents back to the original house and handed them a rug that said “Home Sweet Home.” The house was theirs.
“That’s when I exploded with emotion,” Luisa said. “Since he was a baby, he’s been something else!”
Bourne’s sense of humor and positive demeanor have been staples with the Patriots since he signed a three-year contract worth a maximum of $22 million in March 2021. In 2017, to hook up with the San Francisco 49ers, and then with the Patriots, he set the stage for his gift to his parents.
“He is a great son, a golden boy,” said Luisa. “I tell him that all the time.”
2. O’Brien by hand: Bill Belichick previously said the Patriots’ coaching staff was probably complete, but that doesn’t mean the visitors aren’t welcome at various times, and Belichick’s net runs deep. In that vein, the players took note of Alabama’s current offensive coordinator, Bill O’Brien, on the field of Gillette Stadium last week in the voluntary offseason program. O’Brien, of course, has deep New England roots as a former assistant to Belichick.
3. Groh at Shrine Bowl: Eric Galko, director of football operations and player personnel for the Shrine Bowl, noted that the Patriots tied for most in the NFL (with the Titans) recruiting four Shrine Bowl players.
The players are wide receiver Tyquan Thornton (second round), cornerback Jack Jones (fourth round), running back Pierre Strong Jr. (fourth round) and defensive tackle Sam Roberts (sixth round). While it might have been a coincidence, New England personnel director Matt Groh’s presence during Shine Bowl week was notable for Galko.
“He was one of the executives who stayed there the longest, for at least four days,” he said. “One of the things we added this year was a lot of formal interview time. Most all-star games have 8 to 10 hours of player interview time, sometimes as late as 11 p.m. Not for us. We had 24 hours of available interview time, all structured throughout the day.
“I think for executives like Matt, who were there and took advantage of it, they probably got a lot of good feedback on character and background, for sure.”
4. Jones’ character: Jones, the fourth-round pick from Arizona State who began his career at USC, was arrested for breaking into a restaurant in 2018. A plea deal reduced the initial felony charges to a misdemeanor count of commercial theft in second grade. In 2020, he too was suspended in the state of Arizona for fighting during practice. The teams had to investigate those issues as they explored Jones. Galko, who says he was able to talk to Jones at Arizona State before inviting him to the Shrine Bowl, vouches for him.
“I think a lot of people look at the one incident he had as an 18-year-old at USC, and [assume] That is what it is. It is very important, when evaluating the character of a player, [to consider] it’s not about what the player has done before, but what he can do in the future. Is that past behavior predictive? …[Jones] He made a mistake, he admits it and it’s not something he overlooks.”
5. Elevated Comparison: While acknowledging he has a vested interest in Jones’ success as a Shrine Bowl alumnus, Galko, who previously founded Optimum Scouting and was the XFL’s executive director of personnel, compared his potential to some of the highest-rated cornerbacks in the draft.
“His skills with the ball, timing and reaction make him special. I think in terms of pure male coverage ability, Ahmad Gardner, Derek Stingley Jr., he’s in that…’advantage’ category,” he said.
Gardner was fourth overall to the New York Jets, one pick after Stingley was drafted by the Houston Texans. Jones was selected 121st, and some draft analysts believe that was early.
If Jones meets the level that Gardner and Stingley project as top-5 picks, he would be a big story in New England.
Check out the highlights of Baylor’s speedy wide receiver Tyquan Thornton.
6. Thank you, mom! In an interview with the Patriots’ internal media, Thornton, the second-round pick who ran a 4.28 time in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine (the fourth-fastest for a receiver since 2006) attributed his breakneck speed to his mother, Latasha Jackson. Thornton said that she was always the fastest in her class. A perfect note for Mother’s Day, indeed.
7. Strong report: An NFL scout projects Strong, the running back from South Dakota State, to follow in the footsteps of James White, Shane Vereen and Kevin Faulk in terms of his role. “He’s a pure sprinter, third down,” the scout said, adding that he expected to see more toughness from Strong at times. “He didn’t dominate enough at the end of this year when they were doing their playoff push to make me say ‘This is the guy.’ But he definitely has talent. He catches the ball. He has traits, the production is good, but one question he had is why did they alternate him during the playoffs against Montana State?
8. Program Preview: The NFL releases its 2022 regular season schedule on Thursday night, which will combine the long-awaited when to what is already known Against whom. One of the first thoughts last week, when it was announced that wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins is suspended for the first six games of the season, was whether the Patriots could get a break with an early-season date in Arizona. Ditto for a road game against Cleveland, with quarterback Deshaun Watson potentially facing suspension early in the season.
Patriots 2022 opponents solidified:
🏈Home: Ravens, Bengals, Colts, Bears, Lions, Bills, Dolphins, Jets
🏈Away: Browns, Steelers, Raiders, Packers, Vikings, Cardinals, Bills, Dolphins, Jets
—Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) January 10, 2022
9. Oldest draft class: Patriots first-round pick Cole Strange turns 24 in July, and fellow rookies Thornton (Aug. 22), Marcus Jones (Oct. 24), Jack Jones (Dec. 25), Strong (Dec. ) and Bailey Zappe (just turned 23) reflect how COVID-19 made this the oldest draft class in the entire NFL. Age was not a major concern for the Patriots. “Once you start to get to some of these older players, it’s a factor you have to take into account, and I think position plays a big part in that,” Groh said. “But I don’t think there’s a huge difference between some of those age groups that we’re talking about.”
10. Did you know? The Patriots selected seven offensive players in the 2022 draft, the most of any team in the NFL, and the most in a draft under Belichick, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
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Patriots’ Kendrick Bourne Makes Mother’s Day Memorable With New Home For Parents