Some news and notes for this morning:
Cunningham Trending Upward?
Bill Belichick was asked about Malik Cunningham on Friday, with Cunningham already having drawn praise from offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien thanks to his work on the practice squad earlier this week.
The rookie apparently played a big role in the club’s preparation for Saints quarterback Taysom Hill, and he’s continued on an upward trajectory that it sounds like could see him get an opportunity to play at some point.
“Malik’s really worked hard and made a lot of improvement,” said Belichick. “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.”
He was then asked if Cunningham could get an opportunity on game day, and Belichick didn’t exactly shoot that down.
“Well, he’s definitely trending towards,” said Belichick. “Anybody who keeps improving is going to eventually probably get an opportunity to play.”
Definitely something to keep an eye on.
Bedard Believes Grier is Next in Line
Boston Sports Journal reporter Greg Bedard appeared on Felger & Maz earlier this week, talking about a variety of topics, and was asked about the quarterback position.
When asked on Tuesday if Cunningham could potentially get a chance, Bedard says that if Mac Jones falters, it could actually be Will Grier, and not Bailey Zappe, who would potentially be next in line.
“Not from the way O’Brien talked about him today,” said Bedard. “I mean, from talking to people around the team, I think if Mac Jones doesn’t succeed this week, if he doesn’t retain his job, I think it’s Will Grier’s.”
Grier has been the club’s emergency quarterback as of late, with Zappe sitting ahead of him at the backup quarterback spot. Zappe has come in twice in the last two games in relief of Jones, completing 7-of-18 (38.9%) for 79yds, including 1/7 (14.3%) on third down.
Dugger joins injured list
The Patriots released their latest injury report on Thursday, which saw a new name appear on the list.
Safety Kyle Dugger joined the list of walking wounded for New England, with Dugger apparently dealing with a “foot” injury ahead of this weekend.
Dugger was among the team leaders in tackles on Sunday, finishing the afternoon with one tackle while assisting on five others. He also nearly had an interception on Sunday and has been coming on as of late.
If he’s unable to go, it would add additional strain to a secondary that’s already been dealing with a multitude of injuries so far this season. Jonathan Jones has been on this week’s injury report as he continues dealing with an ankle injury.
Jones returned last week while playing in 48-of-72 (67%) snaps against New Orleans, which gave the Patriots a boost after having lost Christian Gonzalez two weeks ago.
Tyquan Thornton’s Status – “We’ll see”
Belichick was asked about the status of wide receiver Tyquan Thornton, who has been towards working his way back after starting out the season on injured reserve.
He’s been listed on the injured report with a “shoulder” injury, and Belichick said on Friday that this should be the day that decides whether or not we see him this weekend.
“Friday is always a big day for those guys after going through Wednesday, Thursday practice – where are they on Friday?” said Belichick when asked about Thornton. “Guys that haven’t practiced, are they good to go? They could be kind of sore, not a set back, but need a little bit more time.”
“So, I think today is usually a good indication on those players on how the two heaviest practice days have affected them or not affected them. So, we’ll see.”
With both Demario Douglas and JuJu Smith-Schuster potentially set to miss this weekend (they’ve been in concussion protocol all week and haven’t practiced), this would certainly be a good week for Thornton to make his debut.
Posted Under: Patriots News