Patriots Rookie Receiver Heads to Injured Reserve

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Throughout the course of training camp for the New England Patriots, a feel-good story unlike any before captured the hearts and fascinations of fans and players alike.

Gunner Olszewski, an undrafted rookie defensive back who played at Division II Bemidji State, began making a major case for a Patriots roster spot. After an outstanding preseason and being told he was getting cut, the Patriots switched course and brought Olszewski aboard.

He served as a punt returner mostly and caught a few passes from Tom Brady when the Patriots were short receivers due to injury. But unfortunately, Olszewski will not be finishing his rookie season. The Patriots rookie is headed to injured reserve himself with ankle and hamstring injuries, according to ESPN’s Mike Reiss.

Olszewski was inactive for Sunday’s win over Philadelphia as he attempted to nurse those injuries back to health. He becomes yet another Patriots receiver to miss time this season due to injury. With a roster spot now open, the Patriots could potentially use it to activate Isaiah Wynn off injured reserve, giving New England nine active offensive linemen on the roster.

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Where Will Gunner Be Missed Most?

The Patriots punt return unit may take a bit of hit without Olszewski around for the stretch run. Aside from one muffed punt in garbage time against the Jets, Olszewski provided stability at an important special teams position.

New England also loses a tough backup option at slot receiver if Julian Edelman were to suffer an injury. Fortunately, Mohamed Sanu could fulfill both roles for the Patriots. Sanu is another of the league’s top slot receivers and his size makes him as tough to cover as Edelman.

As for the punt return unit, Sanu served in that role at Philadelphia and looked like a natural fit for the position. New England could also use James White at the position as they have before on occasion. A final option could be to deploy N’Keal Harry there as the first-round pick used to return punts in college and made some highlight reels of his own in the process.


From Long Shot to Big Shot

Olszewski almost didn’t get a pro day shot as he was not invited to the University of Minnesota event. But the former football and baseball star made his way onto the field and impressed scouts in the process.

He wasn’t drafted, predictably, but got a call from the Patriots while doing yard work for a tryout. Olszewski impressed the Patriots’ coaching staff, showing a quick transition from defensive back to slot receiver and special teamer.

During a preseason contest against the Carolina Panthers, Olszewski ripped off a long punt return in which he changed directions and broke a few tackles. His versatility and competitiveness likely sealed his fate on the active roster out of training camp and he continued to play with that same spirit throughout the season.

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