FOXBORO, Mass. — The regular season should seem like a cakewalk for New England Patriots wide receiver Gunner Olszewski after facing his team’s secondary every day in training camp.
And yes, Olszewski is a near-lock to stick on the Patriots’ roster after making significant improvements this offseason. The former Division II cornerback entered training camp bigger and more refined since the last time he was spotted at Gillette Stadium rehabbing on an injured reserve stint last season.
“He’s definitely gotten better,” Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore said Wednesday in a video conference call. “I think he’s gotten stronger, gotten quicker. The longer you’re in that offense the better, so he has definitely taken a step from last year. Competing against him, you know he’s going to go hard every snap. That’s one thing about him, he’s very fearless, he doesn’t care. That’s the way you have to be to be a good receiver in this league.”
Gilmore was the NFL’s defensive player of the year in 2019. JC Jackson has led qualified NFL cornerbacks in passer rating against for two straight seasons, and the Patriots are so loaded at the position that he has to compete for snaps with Jason McCourty and Jonathan Jones.
Despite facing such steep competition, Olszewski has looked like one of the Patriots’ best wide receivers this training camp. He was viewed as a longshot this offseason before outperforming players like Jakobi Meyers and Damiere Byrd in practices.
On Wednesday, Olszewski made a highlight play in individual drills, catching a pass from Brian Hoyer one-handed a la Odell Beckham Jr. Olszewski still might not be ready to be an offensive starter in 2020, but he’s the favorite to return punts while serving as a situational receiver.
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