dangolka (CBS) — When Gunner Olszewski routinely confirmed up as the primary participant on the sector day-after-day for coaching camp final yr, the Division II defensive back-turned-NFL receiver/punt returner was checked out as a singular Invoice Belichick challenge and never way more.
Now in yr two, it’s an entire new ballgame, because the 23-year-old Texan is seemingly carving out a task for himself in Cam Newton’s offense.
Olszewski — whose rookie season was reduce quick as a result of accidents — has been turning heads on the observe area this summer time, creating a relationship with Newton that simply may translate into some offensive manufacturing when the video games start in September.
On Tuesday, that connection manifested itself within the type of a completion that had Newton all kinds of fired up on the observe area.
Cam Newton was fired up when Gunner Olszewski pulled in a contested catch vs. Jon Jones. Cool to see how enthusiastic Newton is when his teammates make performs.
— Zack Cox (@ZackCoxNESN) August 25, 2020
Again-shoulder seize to N’Keal (on JMac) adopted by a dime to Gunner on a nook route from Cam Newton in 7s. One among Cam’s higher throws on the ball to Gunner, nice catch too over Jon Jones. #Patriots
— Evan Lazar (@ezlazar) August 25, 2020
It was merely the newest occasion of Gunner standing out, one thing that’s been noticeable all through these canine days of summer time.
One other day, one other robust begin to observe for Gunner Olszewski.
— Andrew Callahan (@_AndrewCallahan) August 25, 2020
Getting the work in.
Monday shoutout from @Gunnerolszewsk1 pic.twitter.com/gUx3NLuFLL
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) August 24, 2020
Final week, Belichick was requested about Olszewski’s progress in yr two. As a substitute of talking in generalities about how each participant is making an attempt to enhance, Belichick borderline gushed about Gunner’s progress.
“Gunner’s improved tremendously. Once more, each bodily and from a soccer standpoint,” Belichick mentioned. “He’s a sensible child, he works extraordinarily laborious. He’s powerful, he’s very, very aggressive. He must discover ways to do a whole lot of various things for us and he continues to work on issues that may develop his alternatives. So it’ll be fascinating to look at him take benefit, or attempt to make the most of these alternatives, and watch him play and see how all of that’s coming collectively. His general background, data, understanding, being knowledgeable athlete, coaching, a few of his elementary athletic abilities — he’s refined these fairly a bit and he’s a lot, a lot, a lot additional forward from the place he was final yr, just like different second-year gamers that we simply talked about. He’s definitely in that group.”
Final week, Olszewski mentioned with the media how way more comfy he’s this yr in comparison with final yr.
“How a lot did I be taught [as a rookie]? You need a proportion? So much. That’s what we are available in right here day-after-day, particularly after getting harm and getting placed on IR. All you’ve is the psychological aspect of the sport. I feel I realized lots,” Olszewski mentioned. “Yr two’s much more enjoyable. You’ve gotten an concept of how day-after-day is gonna be. Clearly, being a rookie is hard. Particularly our rookies this yr, not having a spring portion. I really feel good. I do know our complete class, our rookie class from final yr, we’re all speaking about it, and all of us say yr two is much more enjoyable. Much less considering and much more simply enjoying ball.”
Final summer time, Olszewski flashed in spurts throughout camp and the preseason, however he nonetheless needed to sweat on cut-down day. He was truly advised that he wasn’t making the crew, just for a last-minute commerce of Keion Crossen to open up a spot for Gunner. He performed in eight video games, returning 20 punts with a 9-yard return common. He additionally caught two passes for 34 yards, getting simply 79 offensive snaps.
Whereas observe remains to be simply observe, it’s notable that Olszewski beat all-world cornerback Stephon Gilmore for a reception this summer time. Gunner performed it cool when requested about it by the media, nevertheless it’s that kind of play which will have Olszewski feeling a bit extra comfy when cut-down day arrives in yr two.