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Bill Belichick declined to explain Kendrick Bourne’s surprise absence

Chris Simms isn't "overly concerned" about New England's secondary since it's a "position of incredible depth," and he wasn't expecting Malcolm Butler to be a difference maker, though recognizes the loss of J.C. Jackson.

Patriots receiver Kendrick Bourne did not dress for Friday night’s preseason game against the Panthers. His absence remained a mystery after Bill Belichick’s availability.

The coach wouldn’t reveal why Bourne didn’t play.

He wasn’t available,” Belichick said, via Zack Cox of NESN.

Bourne was kicked out of Tuesday’s joint practice with the Panthers for fighting, and then spent Wednesday working with the second team.

His spot on the roster is anything but guaranteed.

In 14 practices this summer, Bourne has caught more than one pass from starting quarterback Mac Jones in team drills only once, per Cox, and that came on the first day of training camp.

Belichick was asked a follow-up question about Bourne’s availability for next week’s joint practices with the Raiders. He said receiver Kristian Wilkerson is the only player not expected to participate with Wilkerson still recovering from a concussion.

“I expect probably all of our players to be available this week with maybe the exception of Wilkerson,” Belichick said. “We’ll see what happens, unless somebody walks in here with something today, but I think we should be pretty close with everybody. Hopefully. We’ll see how it goes.”

Bourne caught 55 passes for 800 yards and five touchdowns in 2021.