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Is it time for the Patriots to unveil Malik Cunningham to offer the offense a spark?


Invoice Belichick mentioned the versatile rookie has proven a whole lot of enchancment in his sport, so a possibility might be coming.

Malik Cunningham (left) was defended by J.C. Jackson as he labored out at huge receiver in a latest apply.

The Patriots desperately want a spark on offense.

They’re averaging 11 factors per sport, useless final within the NFL. They’ve scored one landing over the previous three video games, and so they’ve benched quarterback Mac Jones in back-to-back lopsided losses.

Kendrick Bourne is the one New England receiver averaging greater than 40 yards per sport. Bourne, who has two landing catches, can be the one Patriots receiver to attain a landing this season.

The offensive line hasn’t proven that it may possibly shield Jones successfully or create sufficient working room for Rhamondre Stevenson and Ezekiel Elliott.

These are main issues which are unlikely to be fastened in a single day. Nonetheless, there are some measures the workforce can take because it makes an attempt to inject life into the offense. Invoice Belichick hinted at one potential transfer Friday, saying that rookie Malik Cunningham is getting nearer to his first regular-season look.

“He’s positively trending in the direction of — anyone who retains bettering goes to ultimately most likely get a possibility to play,” mentioned the coach.

Cunningham primarily performed quarterback in faculty at Louisville. He took some snaps at quarterback for the Patriots through the preseason but in addition has hung out practising as a receiver and with particular groups.

“Malik’s actually labored laborious and made a whole lot of enchancment,” mentioned Belichick. “He by no means actually performed within the kicking sport at Louisville, so he’s began to indicate up there.

“By no means performed receiver — didn’t look superb, both, within the spring, however he’s actually improved there. He can catch the ball, however simply route working and discovering zones and issues like that. However it’s come fairly naturally to him.”

The Patriots’ depth at receiver has taken some hits lately. JuJu Smith-Schuster and Demario Douglas each have been coping with concussions this week. Kayshon Boutte hasn’t performed for the reason that opener towards Philadelphia. Tyquan Thornton is in his first week again at apply after being faraway from the injured reserve checklist.

There’s additionally the potential for utilizing Cunningham at quarterback in a package deal or two. Jones is anticipated to begin, however Cunningham brings a stage of athleticism that the workforce’s different gamers on the place don’t have.

“He performs a superb quantity of quarterback, he’s competent there,” Belichick mentioned. “He’s a wise child, works laborious, and the alternatives he’s had, he’s proven a whole lot of enchancment doing them. It’s a bit too early for an induction ceremony right here, however positively a whole lot of enchancment.”

Jackson settling in

With the primary week of his second stint in Foxborough underneath his belt, cornerback J.C. Jackson says he’s already feeling extra snug. He mentioned the Patriots’ defensive scheme is “just about the identical” as when he left in 2021, and that it feels good to reconnect with previous teammates.

“Simply seeing the older guys that I used to be already right here with,” Jackson mentioned. “Seeing among the coaches. Simply being round some acquainted faces makes me really feel extra snug.”

Cornerbacks coach Mike Pellegrino mentioned Tuesday that he seen final week as a problem for Jackson. Simply how a lot might the veteran deal with as he jumped again into the system lower than per week after being acquired from the Chargers?

Jackson performed 36 snaps within the loss to the Saints, which was half of the defensive whole. He hadn’t performed that a lot since Week 2 for the Chargers.

“I assumed he did an ideal job, simply usually,” Pellegrino mentioned. “He did an ideal job along with his retention of what he discovered previously. I advised him {that a} thousand instances, so I hope that he remembers it, I’ve scarred that into his mind.

“However all jokes apart, he did a superb job coming in no matter day that was, placing his nostril to the bottom and simply preparing.”

Acquainted territory

Belichick smiled as he spoke about how a lot time the Patriots have spent in Las Vegas lately. He has made 4 journeys to Allegiant Stadium within the final 14 months.

“Far more time within the final 14 months than all the remainder of my life,” Belichick mentioned. “It’s a superb factor.”

Former Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels is now Las Vegas’s head coach. Jimmy Garoppolo, who backed up Tom Brady in Foxborough, is the beginning quarterback. Jakobi Meyers, who was the Patriots’ high receiver final yr, is tied with Davante Adams for the workforce lead in landing receptions with three.

“It’s just about the identical dialog each week,” Belichick mentioned. “We all know anyone. They know anyone. We’ve had anyone. They’ve had anyone.

“The extra time that will get eliminated — final yr was totally different — I’d say this yr, there’s extra space in between, most likely a bit bit much less of an element. Definitely, we all know them. They know us, however actually you may say that each week.”