After position switch, Malik Cunningham makes push for roster spot with Ravens

OWINGS MILLS — Malik Cunningham envisioned becoming the backup quarterback to Lamar Jackson when the Ravens acquired him from the New England Patriots’ practice squad in December.

Instead, Cunningham became a key target for Jackson during the recent offseason workouts while lineup as as a wide receiver.

The switch from quarterback to wideout has been seamless for Cunningham, a talented athlete. Cunningham could be a long shot to make the final 53-man roster, but he has caught the attention of his coaches.

The experience of playing quarterback has helped with his new position.

“Malik has looked good at wide receiver,” coach John Harbaugh said. “He’s shown a lot of speed, a lot of quickness. [He’s] kind of a natural at the position, and I’ve seen that he understands the game from the perspective of the quarterback, so [his] routes and coverage and timing and things like that have been excellent.”

Cunningham and Jackson played at the University of Louisville.

Cunningham ranks fourth in Louisville program history with 9,664 yards passing and third with 3,184 yards rushing. Jackson set or tied 42 single-game season and career records during his time at Louisville. He threw for 9,043 yards, and 69 touchdowns and rushed for a school-record 4,132 yards and 50 touchdowns.

The Patriots signed Cunningham as a rookie free agent in May 2023. Cunningham was released in August, but he was signed to the practice squad. On October 14th, he was signed to the active roster, but he was released 10 days later and signed again to the practice squad.

He played in one game for New England but did not attempt a pass and was sacked once.

The Ravens have veteran Josh Johnson as the main backup to Jackson. The team also drafted Devin Leary in the sixth round of the 2024 NFL draft from Kentucky.

The Ravens like Cunningham’s athleticism and want to give him a shot to make the roster as a wide receiver. Cunningham can also play special teams.

“Malik is a football player, and he loves the game,” Ravens wide receivers coach Greg Lewis said. “He wants to find any way he can to get out on the field, and if it’s at receiver, it’s at quarterback, it’s at running back [or] D-Line, he’s out there trying to get it done. He’s done a great job of transitioning from the quarterback position to the receiver position, working with Zay [Flowers] and Sean Ryan and ‘Bate’ [Rashod Bateman].

“They’re bringing him along and teaching him the nuances of playing receiver, but he understands spatial awareness, [and] he understands from the quarterback’s perspective, so obviously, he understands zone coverage. Now, it’s just getting him to do the little things are receivers do, because he hasn’t done it a bunch.”


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