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WR Kendrick Bourne hoping to re-sign with Patriots: 'They hold a special place in my heart, so I would love to go back'

Kendrick Bourne expects to be ready to go for Week 1 of the 2024 season and he's hoping it's with the New England Patriots.

Bourne, an impending free agent, told NFL Network's Patrick Claybon on Thursday's NFL Total Access that he's ahead of schedule in his recovery from a torn ACL and wants to return to the Pats for a fourth season.

"I do. I do," Bourne told Claybon when asked if he wanted to return to New England. "It's something that has helped me in my career, especially in my life as a man. [Bill] Belichick, obviously you bring him up, he's somebody that helped me, obviously you know it's a new coach and new situation, but the building itself, the organization itself, what they stand for has helped me grow. So, it's some place that they hold a special place in my heart, so I would love to go back."

The road back to the playing field will come after Bourne suffered a torn ACL during a Week 8 loss to the Miami Dolphins last season. Bourne said he recently visited with noted surgeon Neal ElAttrache and was told he should be able to take part in some spring workouts and for training camp will be a "full-go."

"My plan is to play Game 1 and I believe I'm going to be ready," he said. "Where I'm at right now, on track, ahead of schedule and I feel good. So, building that confidence, building my strength in my legs so that I can be ready to go Game 1."

Should Bourne get his wish, he would return to a Patriots squad now coached by Jerod Mayo after Belichick and the Patriots parted ways. Though he remains a fan of Belichick, Bourne believes, much like Patriots linebacker Matt Judon, that there will be a freshness to the Patriots in 2024 and excitement accompanying them.

"I think they can expect a newfound energy," Bourne said. "A younger kind of vibe. No knock to Bill, but just something different, something new. It's just kinda how the league is going with coaches now, they're younger coaches, being more relatable."

The 28-year-old Bourne believes he'd be a good fit for the new-age Patriots under the 38-year-old Mayo, who played the entirety of his NFL career in New England before becoming a coach with the organization.

"The fans are going to get a different feel, but also some of the same things that they've seen," Bourne said. "Jerod played for Bill, he's been around. He knows his system, but he's also young and he also can relate to younger guys I think a little bit better than Bill. I think it's gonna be a newfound energy, new pulse."

Having played the first four seasons of his NFL career with the San Francisco 49ers, Bourne joined the Pats ahead of the 2021 campaign. He produced career highs of 55 receptions, 800 receiving yards and five touchdowns that season. Despite missing eight games last season, he was still second among Patriots wide receivers with 37 catches and 406 yards and led the group with four TDs.

He's optimistic he'll be back at Foxborough next season, but as free agency kicks off next week realizes unpredictable times lie ahead.

"I don't know what's gonna happen, but I'm excited to know," he said. "It's a place that is definitely in the talks. It's going well so far, we'll see how far it goes. Just negotiating and just how it goes, we'll see."

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