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New England Patriots

FOXBOROUGH, MA - AUGUST 29: Gunner Olszewski of the New England Patriots runs with the ball during a preseason game against the New York Giants at Gillette Stadium on August 29, 2019 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com

Gunner Olszewski just shot way up the list of the great underdog stories in Patriots offseason history.

Just hours after being informed of his release on Saturday, multiple reports indicate that Olszewski will instead make the team’s 53-man roster. Going by the initial reporting from Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, the Patriots’ trade of cornerback Keion Crossen to the Texans opened up a spot that they decided to use on Olszewski.

For whatever reason, the Pats changed course on Olszewski after reportedly telling him he would be waived earlier on cutdown day. Mark Daniels of the Providence Journal confirmed that the Patriots were keeping Olszewski, while Mike Giardi of the NFL Network explained that they did tell Olszewski he was being released before changing their mind.

Olszewski came on very strong in the preseason, particularly in the final two games. He showed legitimate speed and explosiveness as a punt returner, which may ultimately be his main role on the team when he’s active. That would help keep Julian Edelman fresh and let him focus on being a receiver.

An undrafted free agent out of Bemidji State in Minnesota, Olszewski played defensive back in college. He’s got a long way to go as a receiver, but he showed the Patriots some impressive versatility in the preseason. He checked in as a cornerback during Thursday’s preseason finale against the Giants.

Olszewski became something of a folk hero to fans and reporters with his preseason surge. Apparently, Bill Belichick was as impressed as anyone with Olszewski’s competitiveness and ability to play a variety of roles. And he may well be a legitimate threat as a returner.

After a summer’s worth of wondering how the Patriots would decide on the end of their cornerback depth chart, they instead moved both Keion Crossen and Duke Dawson and opened yet another receiver spot for Olszewski. The latter helps keep alive the Patriots’ streak of undrafted rookies making the 53-man roster, presumably along with receiver Jakobi Meyers out of N.C. State.

Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at matthew.dolloff@bbgi.com.