FOXBORO -- For the second time in three years, the Patriots postseason went awry in part because of special teams.
Whether it was the failed extra point in the 2015 AFC title game in Denver or the shanked field goal in this past Super Bowl, kicker Stephen Gostkowski has been in the middle of that mess. So, you’d think perhaps the Pats would bring in some competition for the 34-year-old kicker. You’d be wrong. Instead, it’s incumbent punter Ryan Allen who’s facing the challenge from undrafted rookie Corey Bojorquez.
Allen has been fairly steady for the better part of his five-year career in New England. Yes, his yards per punt have come down from a high of 46.4 in 2014 to a career-low of 43.4 this past season but he did manage to drop 24 of his 58 punts inside the 20-yard line, the second-highest percentage of his tenure. Couple that dependability with his job as full-time holder for Gostkowski, and Allen would seem to have the inside track on retaining his job.
However, Bojorquez has what appears to be a bionic leg. He has boomed punts with regularity both in the spring and in the first week of camp. He’s outdone Allen with both hang time and distance, but his problem has been both consistency - he’s had a couple of shanks - and sometimes he’s displayed too much leg, which would have resulted in touchbacks. If he can find a more even approach, the New Mexico product might just unseat the vet. Bojorquez will also have to prove he can hold kicks as well as Allen has. That will certainly play a role in the final decision.
Former New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski and his girlfriend Camille Kostek are doing their part to help the community amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The pair have donated 10,000 medical-grade KN95 masks to Boston Medical Center and another 10,000 to St. Joseph's University Medical Center in New Jersey.
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Sports Illustrated swimsuit editor-in-chief MJ Day, whose husband is a physician at St. Joseph's, shared the note Gronkowski and Kostek included in their donation and thanked them for being so generous.
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So when we all say we are a FAMILY at @si_swimsuit I mean it in the truest sense of the word. @camillekostek is a former #siswimsearch winner, SI Rookie and 2019 Cover Model. @gronk is her partner in life and @patriots legend and friend and supporter of this brand. They just donated 10,000 KN95 masks to both @sjhnj and @bostonmedicalcenter. And I am moved beyond words. But this type of generosity deserves words. On a personal note, I have been appealing to people to #stayinandsew #flattenthecurve and support their local hospitals and caregivers in need. My husband is a physician at @sjhnj and many of our friends and colleagues are on the front lines there fighting this pandemic. Like many of the hospitals in the epicenter of this war, they are critically short on supplies. Especially masks. What Camille and Rob have done for this hospital, the caregivers, the patients, and the community made me cry tears of joy. It’s been restorative to my faith that we can make a difference no matter how big or small. It shows me that the type of people that I get to work with care about me and you just as much as we care about them. And no matter what team they played for, we are all on the same team now. There is no way to quantify the gratitude I have for you both. Let’s motivate others to do the same, or what they can to help our hospitals and caregivers battle for us. Make a mask, stay home, donate, use your platform. Do what you can, because it all matters. These masks equate to lives saved. Period. Thank you. ❤️
“Rob and I doing everything we could to figure out how to source these masks properly and get them in the hands of people that need them was not an easy task,” Kostek, a model who was on the cover of the SI swimsuit issue last year, said Monday on her Instagram story, according to WEEI's Ryan Hannable. “Thank you to the heroes of this crisis for putting yourselves and your family — and everything that you do — on the line to help the wellbeing of the people in our nation. I have cried a lot today.”
Gronkowski and Kostek join the many celebrities who have tried to help during the crisis, and it won't be surprising if more follow in their footsteps.
With the NBA, NHL, Major League Baseball and MLS scrambling to figure out a way to salvage its seasons and crown champions in the wake of the coronavirus crisis, the NFL says as far as its season goes, it'll be business as usual in front of fans.
Pash, the NFL's general counsel, told reporters, including Breer, on a conference call Tuesday of playing a full season, “That’s my expectation. Am I certain? I’m not certain I will be here tomorrow. But I’m planning on it, and I’m planning on a full season.”
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So, if Pash expectation becomes reality, on Thursday night, Sept. 10, the Kansas City Chiefs will hang their first Super Bowl championship banner since 1970 and host a team to be determined.
The full schedule - still 16 games, but with a third wild-card team in each conference; it won't be 17 games until at least 2021 - is expected to be released no later than May 9, according to Breer and others.
As for the draft, still set for April 23-25 in this era of social distancing, the "war rooms" of each team will reportedly be limited to 10 people in the room each six feet apart, with picks being made via video chat.