Patriots quarterback Malik Cunningham hasn’t been seen since the preseason, but it sounds like he’s been quietly making an impact behind the scenes.
With New England facing the New Orleans Saints last weekend, Cunningham was apparently called on to play quarterback for the club’s scout team in preparation for that contest.
Offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien talked about that role earlier this week, with Cunningham apparently building some momentum and catching the eye of the coaching staff after giving them a good look readying themselves to deal with the Saints’ Taysom Hill.
“Malik did a good job in the preseason. Malik works very hard. He does a good job on the practice squad,” said O’Brien. “Plays a lot of receiver. [He] played some quarterback last week mimicking Taysom Hill. But yeah, he does a really good job and he’s continued to improve.”
“He’s probably one of the most improved practice squad players that we have. So, good guy to work with.”
New England’s defense looked well-prepared for Hill, who was held mostly in check save for one run. That’s likely thanks to the look Cunningham provided to their defense, and clearly, having someone like him is quietly paying dividends.
As to whether or not we’ll see him under center at some point, that remains to be seen. So far, it’s been Baily Zappe who has been active as the club’s back up on game days, with Will Grier as the Patriots’ emergency quarterback.
Belichick talked about Cunningham further on Friday, adding that he’s potentially trending toward getting an opportunity to play.
“Malik’s really worked hard and made a lot of improvement,” said Belichick on Friday. “He never really played in the kicking game at Louisville, so he’s started to show up there, never played receiver – didn’t look very good either, in the spring, but he’s really improved there.”
“He can catch the ball, but just route running and finding zones and things like that. But, it’s come pretty naturally to him. He plays a good amount of quarterback. He’s competent there. He’s a smart kid, works hard, and the opportunities he’s had, he’s shown a lot of improvement. It’s a little too early for an induction ceremony here, but definitely a lot of improvement.”
Belichick was then asked if he could get an opportunity to see time on game day if he continues trending upwards, and he didn’t shy away from that notion.
“Well, he’s definitely trending towards – anybody who keeps improving is going to eventually probably get an opportunity to play,” said Belichick.
It sounds like if things don’t improve, Cunningham’s chance could indeed come at some point.
Posted Under: Patriots News