FOXBORO, Mass. — If Malik Cunningham ever is going to play quarterback in the NFL, and not just develop as a receiver, he can’t simply run around whenever there’s pressure. He must learn to play as a traditional pocket passer, at least some of the time.

The undrafted rookie still has a long way to go, and there’s a reason he primarily has focused on wideout since joining the Patriots. But it sounds like Cunningham has made major strides as a quarterback, the position he played in high school and college.

“I’d just say his pocket presence,” receiver DeVante Parker told this week when asked how Cunningham has improved as a QB. “He knows when to get rid of it, and he’s just really poised in there. He’s not frantic, not rushing or anything.

“He’s just being real calm and patient — how he should be.”

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It’s been a roller-coaster ride for Cunningham in his first season in New England.

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He was cut after training camp but later re-signed to the Patriots practice squad. With Mac Jones struggling and Bailey Zappe not much better, Cunningham was signed to New England’s 53-man roster ahead of a Week 6 road matchup with the Raiders.

After seeing just a handful of snaps in Las Vegas, Cunningham was inactive the following weekend and then released before rejoining the practice squad.

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The Lousiville product since has seen the majority of his work at receiver. But that changed this week, and Cunningham now appears in line to see at least some QB work in Sunday’s home game against the Los Angeles Chargers after being elevated from the practice squad. Zappe reportedly will start the Week 13 contest with Jones serving as a backup.

That said, if there’s one thing we’ve learned from watching how the Patriots have handled Cunningham, it’s to expect the unexpected.

Featured image via Eric Canha/USA TODAY Sports Images