The New England Patriots lost the first preseason game to the Houston Texans, but Malik Cunningham was brilliant. He was probably the lone star on the football field for the Patriots, delivering a huge touchdown. Head coach Bill Belichick placed him at quarterback and the undrafted player went 3-4 passing for 19 yards and five carries for 34 yards and his touchdown.
Fun fact? Cunningham joined receivers in Sunday’s practice. Yes, Belichick likes versatile players and Cunningham can do both quarterback and wide receiver. He even played at wide receiver in the first half of the preseason game!
Lamar Jackson from the Baltimore Ravens was super impressed by Cunningham’s performance. So, why did he go undrafted? Pat McAfee was really surprised by this fact. He did better than Jackson, but wasn’t one of the top prospect.
“Two-hundred-fifty-nine picks in that draft last year, Malik Cunningham was not drafted,” McAfee said on “The Pat McAfee Show” on August 11. “Somehow this guy is an undrafted free agent that Bill Belichick finds. And in the fourth quarter of the first preseason game, he gets an opportunity to play quarterback [and] electrifies everything.”
Cunningham will repeat his postseason success with the Patriots
One thing stands for sure. Patriots coaches and players noticed Cunningham’s potential and we will be seeing more from him in the future.
“He did a nice job, showed some poise out there, some toughness, moved the team,” Belichick said in the postgame press conference. “He’s been working both spots. That’s his opportunity and he’s done a good job with it. He’s embraced it, he’s worked hard, he’s improved a lot as a receiver, and the snaps he’s had at quarterbacks and tonight he’s done a good job with it.”
Quarterback Bailey Zappe is equally surprised. Cunningham may steal his job, but Zappe does not seem to mind it. He knows that Cunningham is an excellent player who can help the team win.
“Malik came in and did a phenomenal job, had a really good drive, scored the only touchdown of the game,” Zappe told reporters on August 10. “Did really good in both the run game and the pass game. It was really nice to see him do that, especially in his first game in the NFL, to really go out there and kind of put the jitters aside and play like he did was really good to see.”