The New England Patriots made a roster move on Saturday that many fans have ben rooting for, promoting Malik Cunningham to the active roster. It is unclear which position Cunningham will play for the Patriots.
New England signed Malik Cunningham as an undrafted rookie free agent following the 2023 NFL Draft. In training camp Bill Belichick gave Cunningham looks at both quarterback and wide receiver. During his college career at Louisville, Cunningham had exclusively played quarterback.
In the Patriots first preseason game against the Texans, Malik Cunningham was the star of the show. Playing QB, he completed three of four pass attempts for 19 yards. His only incompletion was on a drop in the end zone. Cunningham also rushed for 34 yards and an impressive touchdown.
.@MalikMalikc10 breaking ankles.
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) August 11, 2023
But as was the case with fellow backup quarterback Bailey Zappe, the New England Patriots opted to release Malik Cunningham when rosters were trimmed to 53. He was signed back to the Patriots practice squad and remained there since the start of the season. He has yet to dress for an NFL game.
Praise from Bill O’Brien
This past week both Belichick and offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien praised Cunningham. The practice squad player was a hot topic of conversation this week because he had brought something Patriots fans have not seen enough of in 2023: excitement.
Early in the week O’Brien called Malik Cunningham, “one of the most improved practice squad players.” It appeared some media members asked about Cunningham because people are looking for QB Mac Jones to be replaced. With the New England Patriots having trouble protecting their quarterback, a mobile player like Cunningham could be an attractive alternative. However, O’Brien also made it clear that the major of Malik Cunningham’s practice squad work has been as a receiver.
Bill Belichick Chimes In
On Friday Bill Belichick was asked to expand on Bill O’Brien’s comments.
“Malik’s really worked hard and made a lot of improvement. He never really played in the kicking game at Louisville, so he’s started to show up there, never played receiver – didn’t look very good either, in the spring, but he’s really improved there,” explained Belichick. “He can catch the ball, but just route running and finding zones and things like that. But, it’s come pretty naturally to him.”
But Belichick also touched based on what a segment on the fanbase was really wondering about, Malik Cunningham at quarterback.
“He plays a good amount of quarterback. He’s competent there. He’s a smart kid, works hard, and the opportunities he’s had, he’s shown a lot of improvement. It’s a little too early for an induction ceremony here, but definitely a lot of improvement.”
Barring something unforeseen, it appears Malik Cunningham will make his NFL debut on Sunday for the New England Patriots. It is unclear if Cunningham will be playing quarterback, wide receiver, special teams or kicking field goals but he should be ready and willing to help in whatever way he can. Patriots fans are certainly excited to see what he will bring to the table.