The Patriots could have significant changes at the quarterback position for Sunday’s game vs. the Chargers at Gillette Stadium, with kick-off shortly after 1 p.m. ET in Foxborough.
With reports indicating that second-year quarterback Bailey Zappe will start for the Patriots on Sunday, New England also elevated QB/WR Malik Cunningham from the practice squad on Saturday. After signing to the 53-man roster to make his NFL debut in Week 6, this is Cunningham’s first standard elevation out of three this season.
It’s worth noting that the Patriots cannot use the emergency quarterback rule by only elevating Cunningham to the 53-man roster from the practice squad. All three quarterbacks must be on the 53-man roster to designate an emergency quarterback. Since the Patriots only have two quarterbacks on the active roster, Bailey Zappe and Mac Jones, they cannot use Jones as the emergency quarterback, ruling out the following quarterback depth chart on Sunday: Zappe (QB1), Cunningham (QB2), Jones (QB3/emergency QB).
In other words, all three quarterbacks need to be on the game-day active roster to be eligible to play in the game. The question is, will the Patriots dress Cunningham as Zappe’s only backup or have three quarterbacks active for the game? My guess is they’ll dress all three.
Along with reports about Zappe’s getting the start, there are signs that the Patriots have prepped a package of plays for Cunningham. The undrafted rookie’s first audition didn’t go particularly well for the former Louisville quarterback. Cunningham played six snaps in the loss to the Raiders, with zero targets in four snaps at receiver and -4 yards in two snaps at QB.
At a time when the Patriots were hoping for an added wrinkle to an already struggling offense, Cunningham produced a one-yard handoff to Rhamondre Stevenson and was sacked for a five-yard loss on two option plays at quarterback in Vegas. Cunningham spent most of the spring and summer…