Patriots: Stephon Gilmore’s comments on Gunner Olszewski signals a big Year 2 is ahead

Patriots WR/KR Gunner Olszewski (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)
Patriots WR/KR Gunner Olszewski (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images) /

Patriots WR Gunner Olszewski could be in for a big campaign in his sophomore season.

The New England Patriots entered training camp with what is widely regarded as one of the thinnest wide receiving corps in the NFL. At this rate, it’s looking like the team will deploy Julian Edelman, Mohamed Sanu and N’Keal Harry, the latter of whom returned to practice this week after being sidelined for several days, as the three starters.

You might think that one (or both) of Damiere Byrd and Jakobi Meyers have a leg up on the rest of the depth chart as it pertains to locking down the two main rotational spots. However, the latest rumblings out of camp indicate that a surprise candidate could make that role his own.

According to Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore, second-year wideout Gunner Olszewski has taken a significant leap this offseason. That speaks volumes when you consider that he’s going up against one of the NFL’s most talented secondaries every day at practice.

“He’s definitely gotten better,” Gilmore told reporters during a video conference call on Wednesday. “I think he’s gotten stronger, gotten quicker. The longer you’re in that offense the better, so he has definitely taken a step from last year. Competing against him, you know he’s going to go hard every snap. That’s one thing about him, he’s very fearless, he doesn’t care. That’s the way you have to be to be a good receiver in this league.”

Let’s get one thing clear, folks. Gilmore is the reigning Defensive Player of the Year. Even during training camp, he’s a fierce competitor and wouldn’t go around handing out compliments to teammates if he didn’t feel like they earned it.

The 23-year-old Olszewski has looked like one of New England’s best wideouts since camp started, outperforming the likes of Byrd and Meyers, both of whom were previously projected to enter the regular season above him in the receiver pecking order.

Olszewski was utilized primarily as a punt return specialist as a rookie, logging just two receptions for 34 yards in the passing game while playing just 7% of the offensive snaps. Though disappointing, those numbers mean absolutely nothing heading into Year 2.

The Patriots have given their WRs every opportunity to earn more playing time, and the Bemidji State product is unsurprisingly leaving it all on the field. Expect him to play a big role on the Patriots as an NFL sophomore.

Next. Stephon Gilmore Discusses Absence From Camp. dark