Patriots elevate versatile rookie from practice squad
The New England Patriots are elevating just one player off their practice squad for Sunday’s matchup against the Los Angeles Chargers. With that one player though, they have a chance to fill multiple roles.
On Saturday afternoon, the team announced the elevation of rookie quarterback/wide receiver Malik Cunningham. Sunday will be the second game Cunningham dresses for this year – he was signed to the active roster for the Week 6 game against the Las Vegas Raiders, played six snaps, and was cut a few days later.
Cunningham played both wide receiver and quarterback in that game. Four of his snaps came at wide receiver, while the other two were designed runs for him taking the snap in the backfield.
The Patriots may need Cunningham, a UDFA quarterback from Louisville who has spent most of his time with the Patriots working as a wide receiver, to play both roles on Sunday. Bailey Zappe is expected to start, but it’s unknown if Mac Jones will dress as the backup or be a healthy scratch. If he is, Cunningham would be the backup quarterback (the Patriots can’t use an ’emergency third quarterback’ with one QB being a practice squad elevation).
At the same time the Patriots are shorthanded at wide receiver, with rookies Demario Douglas and Kayshon Boutte both already ruled out with injuries. The team has just four healthy receivers on the active roster – DeVante Parker, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Tyquan Thornton, and Jalen Reagor.
Will Cunningham see more snaps this week than he did against Las Vegas a month and a half ago? According to Jeff Howe of The Athletic, there are “a package of plays” installed for Cunningham. The rainy forecast could also create more favorable conditions for running the ball.