Nick Folk was signed by the Patriots on Monday. All he’s done since is make kicks.
Rookie Justin Rohrwasser, a fifth-round pick in April who didn’t kick during much of the first week of padded practices, has been up-and-down.
During a normal camp, Rohrwasser would have plenty of opportunities to work through the yanks and pushes in game situations. But without preseason games and joint practices, those high-leverage opportunities aren’t there for Rohrwasser to show what he can do.
Folk has shown what he can do. For 11 years in the NFL and for a big chunk of 2019, he’s been a reliable solution.
Most years, a team is going to rely on its kicker to account for anywhere between 125 and 150 points. The Patriots can’t afford to roll the dice on a guy who’s working out the kinks as he enters the league. Especially not this year when, chances are, the offense isn’t going to be parading up and down the field and putting up 28 points per game.
There are a whole lot of question marks facing the Patriots in 2020. If they can eliminate one of them at kicker, they should. Even if that means cutting Rohrwasser and then signing him back to the practice squad.
Bill Belichick was asked about the kicker dynamic on Friday morning by Mike Reiss.
“As you know, this is not an uncommon situation for rookies,” Belichick began. “We can both remember countless examples of guys that come to training camp as rookies and have an injury and they’re not able to play in preseason or they’re only able to play in the last preseason game or something like that. In those situations, you have to make a decision, just like we will this year. We’ll have to make a decision.”
We don't know exactly why Rohrwasser was limited during the first week of practice. But Belichick referencing previous examples of rookies being limited by injury seems like a tipoff that that's what it may have been.
Certainly, Belichick isn’t about to render his decision on a Webex call with reporters. But his pragmatic side is well chronicled by now. If Rohrwasser’s going to be a dice roll when he goes out there, he’s not going to be the guy.
There is time for Rohrwasser to go on a tear. That begins Friday with an in-stadium practice/scrimmage. Unfortunately, this is scheduled to be the last practice of the summer media will have full access to so we won’t be able to judge the way things are headed.
A lot of NFL teams are likely to put a kicker on the expanded 2020 practice squads for safe-keeping in case of a late-week COVID positive test.
Belichick seemed to allude to that possibility, saying, “This year, some of the personnel rules are a little bit different, so we’ll take those into consideration.”
He added, “Ultimately, we’ll have to make decisions and do what we feel like is best for the football team. So, that’s what we’ll do.”
Sounds like Folk music to me.