The New England Patriots play the Pittsburgh Steelers in their Week 14 matchup on Thursday Night. Bailey Zappe will likely be the starting quarterback, and Mac Jones will likely be the third-stringer.
The team’s backup quarterback will likely be Malik Cunningham, who they elevated to their active roster.
This is the third time that the New England Patriots have elevated Cunningham.
This is the third time that Cunningham has been elevated this season. His first elevation came in their Week 6 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders. Cunningham played six offense snaps and saw time at the wide receiver and quarterback position. Cunningham didn’t get any targets and was sacked once.
His second elevation came in their Week 13 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers but didn’t play.
Bill Belichick explained why he didn’t use Cunningham against the Los Angeles Chargers:
“We did what we thought was best. We had times where we got things going. We wanted to try to stay with what we were doing.”
Belichick gave an interesting response when asked about utilizing him in the future.
“That’s an option. There’s other players that are options as well. It’s just really a question of time, and commitment, and how much you can do and how well you can do it. The more time you commit to some things that’s less time you commit to something else. You just have to pick your priorities.”
The Pittsburgh Steelers head coach fears that New England will utilize Cunningham today.
Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin expressed fear that Cunningham might be in a few offensive packages today:
“Malik Cunningham is the guy that creates something that’s a little bit different. They had three quarterbacks active last week. We know his resume at Louisville, so a guy like that with that type of running skills really creates anxiety on a short week. He could show up and do some wildcat-like things, things of that nature. So, that’s something that’s different that has our attention.
In terms of Zap and Mac, they largely play very similarly and some of the schematics are some of the same. Cunningham is the one that might bring some dramatically different schematics and that’s worrisome on a short week.”
How will Cunningham be utilized today?
If New England plans on utilizing Malik Cunningham today, expect them to run a package of plays with him under center.
They might give him a shot as a wide receiver because Kayshon Boutte and Demario Douglas are out and DeVante Parker and JuJu Smith-Schuster will be a game-time decision.