The most intriguing NFL talents in training camp for the New England Patriots wasn’t even drafted.
That talent was on display in the fourth quarter of the Patriots’ preseason opener against the Houston Texans Thursday night at Gillette Stadium. In a 20-9 loss, undrafted rookie free agent quarterback Malik Cunningham created some hype in Foxborough by orchestrating a late touchdown drive that showed off his arm and legs.
After three quarters of lackluster offense by the Patriots, Cunningham’s electric debut may just put a little more competition in the Mac Jones vs Bailey Zappe QB battle. As Cunningham has been mostly used as a wide receiver in camp, he showed Thursday night that the Patriots may have something to work with at the QB position.
Malik Cunningham has Patriots fans hyped!
Not only did the Louisville product show poise in the pocket, but he also showed a little razzle and dazzle in the pocket highlighted by this touchdown run:
While he finished the drive with flash, he also showed toughness as he bounced back from a really ugly face mask penalty during one of his scrambles. That toughness was no surprise to Patriots head coach Bill Belichick who was all compliments following the game.
"“Yeah, I think Malik’s a tough kid,” Belichick told the media Thursday night. “He showed that at Louisville, and as a receiver, he’s different than at quarterback. But, he’s had to block, go in and make tough catches in traffic and things like that. No, I think his toughness and competitiveness is good. You saw that in college and we’ve seen it in the time that he’s been here.”"
While Cunningham isn’t exactly in that quarterback competition yet, he made tough throws, almost completed an impressive pass to the back of the end zone and gave Patriots fans a glimpse of what a mobile quarterback would look like in a Pats uniform. Yes, Cam Newton did his thing for a season in Foxborough, but that wasn’t the Cam everyone was use to. There was a little Lamar Jackson in Cunningham.
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Speaking of Jackson, the Baltimore Ravens star quarterback took notice of Cunningham’s touchdown run on Thursday night and added to the hype by giving a“Broski!” shoutout on X (formerly known as Twitter).
Ironically, both played at Louisville and Jackson was a name buzzing around Foxborough during the 2018 NFL Draft and in trade rumors throughout the offseason before he got his contract with the Ravens.
With players like Jackson taking notice, this undrafted free agent rookie has sparked some excitement in Patriots Nation. Some hype worth watching through the rest of the preseason.