Gunner Olszewski made the 2019 Patriots as an undrafted cornerback out of Division 2, earning a roster spot as a receiver with a strong performance throughout training camp, capping it off playing cornerback in the preseason finale against the Giants. He landed on Injured Reserve in Week 11 after getting his feet wet on special teams as a punt returner, but showed some promise with his fearless return style.
Olszewski would return 20 punts in eight games to start the 2019 season and coughed up a fumble on one of them, leaving few to expect that the Bemidji State product would return in 2020 and have an All-Pro season, but that's just what he did.
Powered by a three-game late-season stretch that saw him return 10 punts for 259 yards with a touchdown, and another called back due to penalty, Gunner finished his 2020 season as strongly as anyone on the roster.
Now, in year three, Olszewski has stayed true to what he did last offseason, remaining around Foxborough and finding any way he can to catch footballs and punts. With a return to normal potentially in sight, Gunner was excited to 2021's prospects.
"I mean, at this point last year, guys were wondering if we were going to have a season," said Olszewski. "Now that we're hearing the fans are going to be in the stands and days are going to be a little more normal than they were and we're obviously having an off-season, which is huge. Guys are pumped, guys were itching to get back in the facility and start working out. It's great."
One guy who won't be back this year is Julian Edelman who announced his retirement earlier this offseason. For Olszewski, he lost a mentor who helped set the tone for the entire team.
"I don't think I can put it into words, he took me under his wing, me and Jacoby both, kind of being underdog receivers," said Olszewski of Edelman. "He's the ultimate competitor, man. And that's, that's what I learned from him. Toughest dude, I ever played with."
As the team continues phase one of the offseason but rapidly approaching phase two, when some actual football work begins, Gunner is focusing on just three things.
"It's just eating, running and lifting. That's the hustle."