Patriots Make Tough Call After WR Suffers Another Injury Setback

Getty Gunner Olszewski

The New England Patriots‘ Gunner Olszewski has suffered a setback in the recovery for an injured foot. He will now be placed on injured reserve and will miss at least three weeks.

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Gunner Was Replaced on the 53-Man Roster, But Not By a Wide Receiver

The Patriots made a flurry of moves on Saturday. In addition to sending Olszewski to injured reserve, they called up kicker Nick Folk, who will be the starter in Week 1 over rookie Justin Rohrwasser, and defensive tackle Xavier Williams.

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Patriots make a flurry of deals the day before Week 1 battle vs. Dolphins. The New England Patriots announced that that they have signed K Nick Folk and DL Xavier Williams to the 53-man roster from the practice squad and placed WR Gunner Olszewski on injured reserve. Additionally, the Patriots signed OL Caleb Benenoch to the practice squad. Benenoch 26, originally entered the NFL as a fifth round draft pick (148th overall) by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 2016 NFL Draft out of UCLA. The 6-foot-5, 310-pounder appeared in 35 with 22 starts for the Buccaneers from 2016-19 before being released by Tamp Bay on Sept. 11, 2019. Benenoch was signed by New England on Sept. 17, 2019, and was inactive for one game before being released on Oct. 1. He also spent time with Carolina, Dallas and Detroit last season. Benenoch went to training camp with the Lions this summer and was released prior to the start of the regular season. #Patriots #NewEnglandPatriots #CamNewton #StephonGilmore #DevinMcCourty #JasonMcCourty #PatrickChung #BrandonBolden #LawrenceGuy #ChaseWinovich #JoshUche #KyleDugger #JoeThuney #JamesHarris #LamarMiller #JarrettStidham #AdamButler #DariusKilgo #DevinAsiasi #DaltonKeene #JulianEdelman #NKealHarry #MohamedSanu #DavidAndrews #BillBelichick #RobertKraft #AFCEast #AFC #NFL #JustinRohrwasser

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One might have thought the Patriots would call up training camp standout Devin Ross to replace Olszewski or even another of the undrafted free agent wide receivers on the practice squad like Isaiah Zuber.

That wasn’t the case as the team will go with four wide receivers for Week 1 in N’Keal Harry, Jakobi Meyers, Julian Edelman, and Damiere Byrd. This means that the team won’t be running any true five wide receiver looks, but they might be sending running backs like James White and J.J. Taylor, or tight ends Devin Asiasi into those positions in an attempt to create some mismatches in space.

This is going to be an interesting week, to say the least when it comes to observing what the Patriots are doing on offense.

Who Returns Kicks and Punts for the Patriots With Gunner Unavailable?

Olszewski’s other responsibility, besides being the team’s likely third receiver, was to return punts and maybe kicks. With him out of action, there is a question as to who will take on this role.

CLNS’ Evan Lazar ran a poll on his Twitter account to gauge what fans are expecting the Patriots to do when it comes to punt returning duties.

At the time of publication, rookie safety Kyle Dugger was winning the poll handily with 43 percent of the vote and more than 2,200 fans having participated. I’m leaning more toward Taylor, the undrafted rookie who was recently called up from the practice squad after Damien Harris went on IR.

The 5’5″ Taylor has tons of versatility, a low center of gravity, and underrated speed on the field. He’s tough to see in traffic and that could be a benefit for him in the return game. With tons of depth at running back already, it would seem the primary benefit for him being on the 53-man roster at this point would be to play a role in the return game.

We’ll find out on Sunday.

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