BOSTON (CBS) — In a lot of ways, Jakobi Meyers and Gunner Olszewski aren’t supposed to be where they are.

Both were undrafted. Meyers was a quarterback who switched to the receiver position at NC State. Olszewski went to Division II Bemidji State, where he played defensive back. In theory, neither of those backstories provide the blueprint for how to become contributing members of the New England Patriots.

Yet at the same time, a staple of the Bill Belichick era has been a reliance on guys who were overlooked in previous places. From maximizing the usage of players like Mike Vrabel or Wes Welker, to the selection and development of Julian Edelman from college QB to world-class receiver and punt returner, to riding the undrafted BenJarvus Green-Ellis as a No. 1 back, to the history of finding undrafted corners like Malcolm Butler and J.C. Jackson, to … the two decades of Hall of Fame quarterbacking from the 199th pick in the 2000 draft, the Patriots’ dynasty has been written by underdogs and superstars alike. Eventually, most of the underdogs became stars.

Meyers and Olszewski both joined the team in 2019, when the Patriots were soaking in the win of their Super Bowl victory. The two players haven’t lived that glory themselves, but they’ve managed to grow and establish themselves as key contributors for Bill Belichick.

That ability to stick around, survive three years of roster cuts, and become regular NFL contributors shows a lot of dedication and focus. Meyers, though, had a better way of explaining it.

“Me and Gunner used to make jokes like we were cockroaches,” Meyers told Peter King. “No matter who they brought in, we’d find a way to stay alive.”

“Cockroaches” isn’t exactly a term of endearment, and likening oneself to an invasive insect isn’t normally a point of pride. Yet in this case … it works.

Meyers caught his first career touchdown on Sunday. He now has 1,571 receiving yards off 135 receptions, and he’s a perfect 4-for-4 as a passer for 88 yards and two touchdowns. He recently stepped in to replace Olszewski as the punt returner, as Olszewski deals with a head injury. Olszewski was a First Team All-Pro last year for his work on the punt return team, as he’s now returned 58 punts for 773 yards and a touchdown in 30 career games.

CBSBoston.com Staff