FOXBORO, Mass. — Plato. Confucius. Aristotle. Gunner. Buddha.
Obviously, some of the world’s foremost philosophers are listed above. We can all agree on that. And while four of the five focused on more worldly matters, New England Patriots wide receiver Gunner Olszewski taught a class on the theory of switching positions Wednesday in his Wooderson Texas drawl.
Olszewski played cornerback at Division II Bemidji State. The Patriots signed him as an undrafted free agent last year after a tryout at rookie minicamp then moved him to wide receiver. Olszewski doesn’t necessarily see it in those complicated terms.
“I’ve been a wide receiver ever since I came to the National Football League,” Olszewski said Wednesday on a video conference call after an unpadded training camp session. “So I don’t really think of myself as a former defensive player. The second I got here, I was a receiver. The second I got here I felt comfortable doing it because I knew my position changed. I didn’t think of myself as a DB. I don’t think of myself as a former DB now.”
It has been over a year since Olszewski made the switch.
“Everybody comes into the league as a receiver whether they played it in college or not,” Olszewski continued, twisting your mind further and further into a pretzel. “I think it’s a whole new position for everybody. The standards of playing in the NFL as a receiver is a lot different than college. I think I learned just like everybody else did last year.
“We’re all new receivers in the NFL. And this is our second year as NFL receivers. I don’t consider myself more behind or ahead of anybody. I’ve been a receiver since I’ve been here, and that’s the position I play. Comfortability has always been the same. It’s the position I play now.”
He definitely looks like a wide receiver on the practice field. He even beat NFL Defensive Player of the Year Stephen Gilmore for a catch from quarterback Cam Newton on Wednesday. Olszewksi also beat Gilmore on a deep ball down the sideline, but he couldn’t reel in an overthrow from quarterback Brian Hoyer on a diving attempt.
The second-year pro has impressed his (kind of) former position-mates.
“Gunner is a tough kid,” cornerback JC Jackson said on a video conference call. “Gunner is the type of kid you know you have to compete against. Gunner, he’s coming at you every play, every snap. He’s going to go 100 percent, even in blocking drills. He’s a dog. He has a dog mentality. I love going against Gunner.”
Olszewski spent the offseason keeping his head in the playbook and running routes to further his development at the receiver position. He downplayed spring and summer throwing sessions with Patriots quarterback and fellow second-year pro Jarrett Stidham.
“Just doing what was expected of us,” Olszewski said. “We’re just working, trying to find a field and getting working.”
The Patriots didn’t get a ton out of their 2019 rookie class, but Olszewski gave a positive update about the Patriots’ sophomores, including running back Damien Harris, wide receivers N’Keal Harry and Jakobi Meyers and offensive linemen Hjalte Froholdt and Yodny Cajuste.
“I know our whole class, our rookie class from last year, we’re all talking about it, and we all say Year 2 is a lot more fun,” Olszewski said. “Less thinking and a lot more just playing ball.”
Maybe Olszewski doesn’t have to think as much, but he certainly has everyone else pondering over his musings.
Photo via Eric Adler/New England Patriots