One Patriots rookie is already acting like an NFL veteran
One common storyline that often comes up during NFL training camp is which veterans are taking rookies ‘under their wing.’ As camp moves on, it can be a way to tell which players are establishing themselves as leaders on the roster.
What’s rarer is hearing that said about a rookie. However, that seems to be taking place in New England.
On Friday morning, Patriots wide receiver coach Ross Douglas spoke with the media. He was asked about how rookie UDFA Malik Cunningham has handled picking up the playbook as both a quarterback and wide receiver. As it turns out, Cunningham is doing more than learning the playbook himself.
“Malik, he’s very mature. He’s a professional already, as a rookie. And he takes his craft very seriously,” Douglas said. “He’s even taken [rookie wide receivers] Demario [Douglas] and Kayshon [Boutte] under his wing. They’ll walk through the plays. They’ll go in our virtual room back in Foxborough and just really try and get a beat on the next day’s install and try to perfect their craft.”
Douglas continued to praise Cunningham’s work ethic. “The good think about Malik is he loves football and he really cares about being good,” he said. “So everything from there will really take care of itself.”
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It wasn’t just Douglas speaking highly of Cunningham during Friday’s media availability with assistant coaches. Cunningham has also worked as a gunner on punt units, and special teams coordinator Cam Achord praised his work in that phase.
“Malik’s like a sponge,” Achord said. “He’s trying to take in as much football information as he can.”
This praise comes as Cunningham continues to make a push for a spot on the Patriots’ initial roster. He’ll have another chance to help himself on Saturday night, when the Patriots take on the Packers in their second preseason game of the summer. Cunningham will try to replicate the performance he had in the preseason opener, when he was one of our standout players.