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Giants sign All-Pro returner Gunner Olszewski to practice squad


The New York Giants signed wide receiver Gunner Olszewski, whose resume includes a first-team All-Pro selection as a punt returner, to their practice squad.

Olszewski was released Saturday by the Pittsburgh Steelers after he signed with the team as a free agent in 2022. Prior to that, he spent the first three years of his career in New England, where he became a standout return specialist.

His 17.3 yards per punt return in 2020 not only led the NFL, but it was the highest return average in Patriots history and the second-highest in the NFL since 1970. He also became the fourth player in franchise history to lead the league in punt return average, and his 145 punt return yards were the second-most ever by a Patriot. Olszewski was the first player in New England history with two punt returns of at least 60 yards in a single game.

Overall, Olszewski has returned 75 career punts for 897 yards (12.0), including a 70-yard touchdown. He has taken back 41 kickoffs for 904 yards (22.0), with a long of 37 yards. He has also started four times at wide receiver in 55 regular-season games, recording 15 receptions for 180 yards and a touchdown. He was the fourth player in Patriots history with a punt return touchdown and touchdown catch in the same game. If that weren't enough, Olszewski also has 14 career rushing attempts for 71 yards.

The 6-foot, 190-pound Texas native played collegiately at Bemidji State in Minnesota. He was a defensive back throughout his college career before making the switch to wide receiver in pursuit of a career in the NFL.

Olszewski was named the 2018 Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Defensive Player of the Year. In college, he registered 310 tackles (183 solo), 40 passes defensed, 13 interceptions, nine tackles for loss, three forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and a sack. He also averaged 29.7 yards per kickoff return and 13.4 yards per punt return. He played baseball for the Beavers before an injury sidelined him during his junior season, when he shifted his focus to football. His father, Eric, was a minor league baseball pitcher for the Atlanta Braves organization.

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