Patriots Rule Out Key WR For Week 1 vs. Dolphins

Getty Gunner Olszewski

The beginning of a potential breakout season for New England Patriots second-year man Gunner Olszewski will have to wait. The fast-improving wide receiver was ruled out of the Week 1 matchup vs. the Miami Dolphins on Friday with a lingering foot injury.

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The Hole Gunner Olszewski’s Absence Creates

Besides hopefully establishing himself as a key contributor in the passing game, Olszewski likely was also going to play a role as a kick and punt returner. The role on special teams would have been in place, in part, to relieve some of the load from 34-year-old Julian Edelman, who has been nursing a knee injury throughout camp.

With Olszewski out of the Week 1 battle with one of the Patriots’ AFC East rivals, Bill Belichick and Co. will have to look elsewhere for production at receiver and a return man.

The Players Most Likely to See Extended Action With Gunner Olszewski’s Absence

Earlier in the week, the Patriots recalled tiny, but explosive, running back J.J. Taylor. The 5-foot-5 undrafted rookie out of Arizona was signed by the Patriots shortly after the draft. He had some strong moments in training camp but didn’t initially make the 53-man roster. However, injuries to second-year pro Damien Harris and free-agent signee Beau Allen opened up a couple of spots.

Along with fellow rookie Cassh Maluia, Taylor was brought up to the main roster, and now he’s in a position to take on Olszewski’s role as a punt and/or kick returner.

Along with Taylor, the Patriots might also take a look at prized rookie second-round pick Kyle Dugger. While he is expected to make an impact from scrimmage, Dugger is one of the team’s best overall athletes. He had great success returning kicks for Lenoir-Rhyne in college, and the Patriots could try to tap into some of those talents in Week 1 if they believe he gives them a better opportunity to gain an advantage.

What the Patriots Will Do If Gunner Olszewski’s Injury Lingers

Neither Taylor nor Dugger is a wide receiver, so while they can help the team in the return game, they won’t likely do much to fill in for Olszewski as receivers–though Taylor seems like an interesting option if split out wide or in the slot because of his shiftiness. 

Still, the Patriots are more apt to look at their practice squad for someone like Devin Ross (who really stood out in training camp) and another undrafted rookie in Isaiah Zuber. Hopefully, Olszewski will not miss extended time, and he’ll be ready to show the continued growth that earned him a spot on the roster this year in training camp after coming close to finding a spot in 2019.


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