The New England Patriots may be short on talent at wide receiver, but they have plenty of motivation.
Near the end of his chat with reporters at Sunday's training camp practice outside Gillette Stadium, Kendrick Bourne was asked about the play of fellow receiver Tyquan Thornton.
Rather than discuss Thornton's play, however, Bourne responded by parroting a take that Mike Giardi of the Boston Sports Journal delivered last week on NBC Sports Boston's Boston Sports Tonight.
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"Stink, stank and stunk," Bourne said before walking off with a grin. (Check out Giardi's comments and Bourne's reply in the video player above.)
Bourne's swipe at Giardi got a rise out of teammate DeVante Parker, who tweeted, "he funny af for that" and later responded to one of Giardi's tweets with the same "stink stank stunk" line.
New England Patriots
The message from the Patriots' wide receiver room here is clear: They've heard the noise, and they're using it as a chip on their collective shoulder.
While Bourne and Parker singled out Giardi's comments, he's far from the only NFL analyst who is dubious of New England's receiving corps. ESPN's Bill Barnwell ranked the Patriots' skill position players 26th out of 32 NFL teams, while Warren Sharp of Sharp Football Analysis had the team's receivers and tight ends at No. 28 in his rankings. The Athletic's Mike Sando wrote recently that Mac Jones has "the worst supporting cast of any young quarterback." You get the idea.
These criticisms aren't necessarily unfounded, either. No wideout on New England's current roster had more than 600 receiving yards last season, and free-agent acquisition JuJu Smith-Schuster is the closest the team has to a true No. 1 receiver. If any Patriots wide receiver flirts with 1,000 yards this season, it will be a surprise.
But Bourne, Parker and their fellow wideouts appear to be a proud group that's eager to silence its naysayers.
"We've got a lot of doubters, so got a lot to prove," Bourne said Sunday. "I’m excited, man. It’s good to be the underdog sometimes, because they don’t know we’re coming."