Undrafted QB Malik Cunningham brings intriguing skill set to Patriots


Foxboro, Mass. – Quick-hit ideas and notes all around new England Patriots and NFL:

1. Cunningham at QB: The Patriots have had one free agent make their Opening Day 53-man roster for 19 consecutive years, which is tied with the Broncos for the longest streak in the NFL.

In the undersized 2023 class, the Louisville quarterback Malik Cunningham Represents best chance to continue that streak – and as a dual-threat option the prospects are intriguing.

Lance Taylor, Cunningham’s offensive coordinator last season at Louisville and currently the head coach at Western Michigan, said, “He will be one of the most dynamic players when he is on the field.” “He can turn a bad play into a home run and can make a particular play quicker than anyone I have seen, especially at the quarterback position. He is very unique with his skill set.

“I’ve been lucky with some great quarterbacks cam newton, and the Jets, and some great college quarterbacks in the Rex Ryan era. He is one of the most dynamic and explosive playmakers you will find.

The 5-foot-11, 192-pound Cunningham started 47 games in Louisville, where the former Patriots receiver deon branch Serves as the Director of Player Development and Alumni Relations. He was offered a scholarship by Alabama as a safety, but chose Louisville because he wanted to play quarterback and follow in their footsteps. Baltimore Ravens, lamar jackson,

He finished his career 692-of-1,105 for 9,664 yards with 70 touchdowns and 29 interceptions, but it was as a quick and speedy ball carrier that he totaled 619 carries for 3,184 yards and 50 touchdowns.

The Patriots, who finished 32nd in red zones last season, 28th in first downs, and scored just 31 offensive touchdowns, could benefit from the type of sizzle Cunningham provided in college.

Perhaps new offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien has a read-option package in mind. Maybe it’s a gadget play for a get-to-have situation. This can help with game-planning and defense when preparing to face a dynamic quarterback like the Eagles’. Jalan HeartsStarting in week 1. Or perhaps it’s as simple as feeding the quarterback pipeline, which is always good business considering the value of the position.

Cunningham currently ranks fourth on the New England depth chart mac jones, belly zap and recently signed Trace McSorley, The Patriots have had three quarterbacks on the opening-day roster in each of the last four seasons, so there’s a clear path for Montgomery, Alabama, to basically leapfrog McSorley and keep the team’s undefeated streak alive.

“I think he is a quarterback, first and foremost. He has the skills and the tools to be able to play at that level,” Taylor said. “Whatever role he is asked to play, he That’s the one thing I found with him, there was nothing we could give him that he couldn’t do or figure out and be good at.

Cunningham, who was the team’s captain in 2022, was one of the most sought-after free agents in the draft. His contract included $200,000 in guaranteed money, the equivalent of a late-round draft pick.

“Malik is a great leader, prepares well, loves football, a great teammate,” Taylor said. “He’s a quiet leader, but when needed, he can definitely take command and he can be a vocal presence.

“I think one of the things that stood out to me when I first met him was, we were going through summer conditioning workouts and he was going through the receivers, the running backs and the skill guys, the fastest guys on our team. is winning a drill. He is a competitor.

2. Bye Bye: The Patriots do not play against an opponent with a bye in 2023, which some see as an advantage due to the rest. In contrast, the Rams and 49ers play with a league-high four opponents coming off their byes. According to ESPN Analytics, this is the first time since 2013 that the Patriots will not face an opponent coming off a bye.

3. Cheaters Under the Radar: first round draft pick Christian Gonzalez And the rest of the Patriots’ rookie class arrived in town this week for the rest of the spring, and like every team but the Rams, they participated in a rookie minicamp. Coach Bill Belichick, never one to shy away from being outlandish, was one of the few coaches who kept rookie minicamp practices closed to reporters; Only the Patriots, Ravens and Raiders closed rookie practice for reporters. Belichick will start drills for reporters for the first time on May 25.

4. Legacy of the Patriots: How do the NFL schedule makers see the Patriots coming from season 8-9? Oni Bose, vice president of broadcasting, spoke about putting together New England schedule: “They have a game almost everywhere — on every prime-time package, an international, a possible NFL Network, a CBS doubleheader, a Fox doubleheader — and I think this is an example of a team that can play in a Lots of places. The team’s legacy and AFC East competitiveness plays into that.”

5. The Brady Bucks: patriots defensive tackle devon godchaux joked tom bradyThe return of the Patriots’ home opener against the Eagles as part of owner Robert Kraft’s invitation so fans can thank them means it will be a hot ticket. It is currently the most sought after ticket of the entire NFL season. According to Vivid Seats, the average ticket price for a game is $807, followed by the Cowboys versus the 49ers ($501). Godchaux said: “We want to win every game, but in that game, we definitely have to win.”

6. Off Season Check-in: There was a moment in the Patriots’ media workroom last week that illustrates one of the primary benefits of the team’s voluntary offseason program (which enters its fifth week on Monday). it came as linebacker/captain Ja’Whaun Bentley Answering questions from reporters and newly signed linebacker/core special teamer chris board Waited on the side. Bentley was asked about the board, which led to a tiff between the two. As Bentley later noted, a successful off-season program occurs when players begin to form bonds that can carry them into the season.

7. Mac On The Move: rushing back James Robinson, who signed a two-year deal with the Patriots in free agency, noticed Jones at quarterback in the team’s off-season program. “That man can run for a long time,” Robinson said with a laugh. Robinson isn’t the only Patriot to note Jones’ conditioning and work ethic, but perhaps just as notable is what someone else close to Jones relayed: Jones’ everyday demeanor compared to teammates in his successful rookie season. Seems close. For last season’s struggle.

8. He said this: “At the end of draft day, [Patriots president] Jonathan [Kraft] And I was chatting, and I said, ‘That was a great, great draft. I am really looking forward to the team. And she said, ‘You say that every year!’ But I really believe. We were able to get the top seven picks that we identified before the draft. I think it gives us a good balance of our needs. I think our free agent pickup and the inclusion of Bill O’Brien will make a big difference.” — Owner Robert Kraft, on NFL Network

9. Belichick and Navy: Given his close ties to the US Naval Academy, a worst-case scenario would be for Belichick to play a road game for the Patriots on December 10, which would mean he would travel with the team during the annual Army–Navy Game, which takes place on December 9. will be held at Gillette Stadium on Dec. Instead, the Patriots visit the Steelers on Thursday, December 7, creating a mini-bye weekend for Belichick to enjoy the tradition-rich game at his home stadium.

10. Do you know?: The last time the Patriots started the season at home against an NFC team – as they will do in 2023 with a trip to the defending NFC champion Eagles – was in 2000. This was Belichick’s first year as coach; New England lost 21–16 at home to Tampa Bay. In addition, with the team hosting Miami in Week 2, this season marked the first time since 1995 that the team would begin with two straight home games.

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