FOXBORO, Mass. — Gunner Olszewski isn’t a lock to make the New England Patriots, but he’s definitely making an impression.
The 6-foot-nothing, 190-pound wide receiver out of D-II Bemidji State impressed as a punt returner in New England’s first two preseason games, and Thursday’s matchup with the Carolina Panthers was no different.
Olszewski had four returns for a total of 63 yards (average of 15.8 yards) Thursday, with the longest of the bunch coming in at 28 yards. Similar to Julian Edelman’s return game, Olszewski has the ability to make defenders miss with his quick cuts and impressive lateral speed. He showcased that on the 28-yarder, making Panthers linebacker Andre Carter miss before cutting out to the sideline and breaking free upfield.
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Head coach Bill Belichick said after the game that he “can’t keep track of every player out there,” but one player he did discuss was Olszewski.
“Gunner’s an aggressive kid,” Belichick said. “He’s done a nice job handling his roles in the kicking game and offensively. He’s a very competitive kid.”
Any praise from Belichick is high praise, so that must be nice for Olszewski to hear.
His teammates also seem to love his energy. When Olszewski came up during fellow wideout Phillip Dorsett’s postgame media availability, he perked right up, noting the spark the D-II product provides.
“Gunner always gives us a spark,” Dorsett said with a smile. “Gunner’s a wrecking ball. He just goes out there and puts his body on the line every day and we love that.”
Olszewski made one reception for 15 yards Thursday, coming midway through the fourth quarter, but exited the game following the grab after an apparent head injury. He appeared shaken up after the catch and quickly was attended to by the Patriots’ medical staff. Olszewski went right to the medical tent on the sideline before ultimately heading to the locker room. The energetic pass-catcher should be good to go next week, though, according to NESN.com’s Doug Kyed.
Time will tell if Olszewski makes the team, but long shot or not, he’s making plenty of noise.