Patriots

Gunner Olszewski earning trust of Tom Brady, Bill Belichick with hard work

Gunner Olszewski earning trust of Tom Brady, Bill Belichick with hard work

The New England Patriots have had an unsettled receiver room for most of the 2019 season. At one time, it seemed like they had one of the best groups in the league. But the release of Antonio Brown and the team's decision to trade Demaryius Thomas left them a bit weaker at the position. And in recent weeks, they have been thin at the position due to injuries.

Phillip Dorsett (hamstring), Josh Gordon (knee/ankle), and Julian Edelman (chest) have all been dealing with various maladies over the course of the first six weeks of the season. Additionally, first-round rookie N'Keal Harry has been on IR since just after the team's final cuts.

With these absences, some unexpected contributors have been able to step up. And one of them is Gunner Olszewski. The undrafted rookie out of Bemidji State has earned a big role as a return man and has recently seen an increase in offensive action. And so far, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has been impressed with his energy and effort.

"Gunner works really hard," Belichick told reporters at Saturday's media availability. "He gives a lot of effort to do, again, whatever we ask him to do. Whether that’s return kicks, cover kicks, block, catch – he works really hard. Just gives his best all of the time, so you can’t ask for anything more than that. He keeps getting better, so we’ll see where it goes. But, yeah, he’s a good, hard worker."

Of course, hard work is only part of the equation. In the Patriots' offense, it's important to have chemistry with Tom Brady. Has Olszewski done enough to earn Brady's trust so far?

"Yeah, definitely," Brady said when asked about his level of trust in Olszewski. "I think they’re – like I said, those guys are – when you’re young, you gain trust in practice, and a lot of it’s doing the right thing over and over and over again. Those guys are working at it. I mean, they’ve been here a short period of time, so try to get as many reps as you can and talk about things. You get coached up, and any young player, they’re trying to earn the trust of the coach and the players every day."

This is seemingly the most positive Brady has felt about his young receiving weapons this year. Perhaps the team's success against the New York Giants despite being limited to only one formation because of their lack of healthy personnel had an impact on Brady. And maybe that helped him to become more confidence in Olszewski and fellow undrafted rookie Jakobi Meyers.

Either way, Brady will likely have to look Olszewski's way a bit more than usual on Monday night against the New York Jets. Josh Gordon is out for the game and so too are tight ends Matt LaCosse and Ryan Izzo. That should afford Olszewski a good opportunity to make his presence felt.

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Tom Brady reacts to Myles Garrett incident: Bill Belichick uses it as 'teaching moments'

Tom Brady reacts to Myles Garrett incident: Bill Belichick uses it as 'teaching moments'

Just about every NFL player is being asked for his reaction to the crazy incident in Thursday night's game between the Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers, and New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady couldn't escap the question Friday.

Browns defensive end Myles Garrett has been suspended indefinitely by the league for taking off Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph's helmet and hitting him over the head with it. 

Brady told reporters in his Friday press conference that Patriots head coach Bill Belichick uses those types of situations to remind his players of what to do and what not to do when tempers flare.

"Coach Belichick tries to use it as teaching moments," Brady said. "(He) talks about not throwing punches, not touching the referees and staying on the sidelines."

How hard is it to stay disciplined?

"It's an emotional game," Brady said. "I think I got a penalty in 2002 -- I think I've only got one penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct, I kinda pushed someone back against Chicago. That might be my only unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Probably deserved a few more, but that was the only one I got called for."

The Patriots beat Garrett and the Browns 27-13 at Gillette Stadium in Week 8.

The defending Super Bowl champs return to game action Sunday afternoon with a Week 11 matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field.

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NFL Odds: Patriots a road favorite for record 29th straight game Sunday vs. Eagles

NFL Odds: Patriots a road favorite for record 29th straight game Sunday vs. Eagles

Some teams are lovable underdogs. But that doesn't apply to the New England Patriots — not by a long shot.

When New England travels to Philadelphia for their Week 11 matchup against the Eagles, the Pats will be a road favorite for the 29th consecutive game, extending their own NFL record, a streak that started with Tom Brady's first game back after his Deflategate suspension in 2016.

Not only have the Patriots succeeded in these situations, they've flourished, winning 75 percent of their games during that stretch — and doing so with an average margin of victory of 9.5 points — according to @BostonSportsInf on Twitter.

Here's a closer look at the longest streaks as a road favorite in NFL history:

Team (Years) Games Record
1. Patriots ('16-'19) 28 21-7
2. Rams ('99-'02) 26 18-8
3. 49ers ('83-'86) 21 15-6
4. 49ers ('96-'98) 17 13-4
5. 49ers ('93-'95) 16 11-5
T6. Colts ('06-'08) 15 9-6
T6. Redskins ('90-'92) 15 10-5

The Patriots are currently 3½-point favorites for Sunday's game, according to the Westgate Superbook, and their only road games remaining this season after this week are at Houston and Cincinnati. So barring a major injury, New England should extend their record streak to 31 consecutive games by season's end.

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