Patriots

Jake Bailey sounds like the choice for kickoffs following Stephen Gostkowski's injury

Jake Bailey sounds like the choice for kickoffs following Stephen Gostkowski's injury

FOXBORO -- The Patriots had more than one job to replace when they put Stephen Gostkowski on injured reserve earlier this week. They handled the field-goal and extra-point work by giving veteran Mike Nugent the place-kicker gig.

The kickoff duties, meanwhile, sound like they could be going to rookie punter Jake Bailey based on what long-snapper Joe Cardona told reporters Thursday.

No surprise there if Bailey's the choice. The Stanford product -- who had Bill Belichick gushing about his directional punting and hang time earlier this week -- didn't hide the fact that he'd love to kick off after he was drafted in the fifth round back in the spring.

"I would love to be able to do that," he said. "It's been a part of my game ever since I've been at Stanford. It's something I would like to continue. A lot of NFL teams really value a punter that can also kick off because it kind of helps out the kicker if he's getting old or something or doesn't have a strong kickoff leg, so whatever happens, I'll be super happy with it."

Bailey was a kickoff specialist to start his career at Stanford, punting only situationally. But even as his punting duties increased, he remained the kickoff choice for coach David Shaw. Bailey had 60 touchbacks on 72 kickoffs last year (83 percent). In 2017, he had 58 of 83 kicks go for touchbacks (70 percent), playing primarily in kicker-friendly Pac-12 locales.

The only thing in Bailey's way was Gostkowski. At 35 years old, Gostkowski wanted to keep kicking off this season, but he acknowledged it was harder on his body than kicking field goals.

"I would say you always practice field goals a lot more than kickoffs," he said. "I would equate kicking off to like hitting on the driving range. We work on things like hitting it short, hitting it in the corner, hitting it high. But at the end of the day, I'm really just swinging as hard as I can. Field goals. are so much more attention to detail that goes into it. Plus, if a kicker were to get injured, nine times out of 10 it's on a kickoff.

"It's one of those things, you gotta kick off enough to where you're comfortable with your rhythm and your steps. But you could go out there and kick field goals all day. You kick too many kickoffs, it'll tire you out a little bit more so you have to watch out how much you actually do kickoff-wise. I know a guy like Thomas Morstead who used to do it, he was like, 'I could punt all day, but kickoffs you just can't do all day.' It's one of those things. It's all effort. Balls to the wall. Then field goal is more like a smooth stroke."

Gostkowski took every kick off and appeared to get injured -- or aggravate an injury -- after making a tackle during a kickoff in Buffalo last weekend. The Patriots, according to Football Outsiders, are 26th in the NFL in opponent starting field position following kickoffs. They allow opposing offenses to begin drives following kickoffs, on average, at the 26.19 yard line.

That's obviously not where the Patriots would like to be, and it helps explain why they went out and signed some kick-coverage help this week when they brought back Jordan Richards. Their No. 26 ranking at this point in time is actually an uptick from 2018, though, when they were last in the league in opponent starting field position following kickoffs (27.11 yard line on average). It was a drastic drop from their No. 2 ranking in 2017 and No. 3 ranking in 2016.

It sounds like now with Gostkowski out, it'll be Bailey's right leg that'll have the opportunity to try to help that ranking climb back to a place where Belichick and special teams coach Joe Judge would like it.

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That 617 Life Podcast: Who made who? Bill Belichick or Tom Brady

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NBC Sports Boston Illustration

That 617 Life Podcast: Who made who? Bill Belichick or Tom Brady

The people's court is now in session. The topic of debate: Who made who, Bill Belichick or Tom Brady?

The two New England Patriots greats will always be inextricably linked for the success they've had in creating the Patriots dynasty. Together, the duo has won six Super Bowl titles and has overseen the most dominant two-decade stretch in NFL history.

Still, the question of who is chiefly responsible for the team's success has long been a debate among the New England faithful. And this week, Shanda, Cerrone, and Leroy take a deeper dive into the case for both sides on the latest episode of "That 617 Life Podcast".

Cerrone kicks off the "trial" by defending Brady, arguing that his on-field play and his arrival to the team snapped the Patriots out of the funk that they were in for most of the early part of their franchise's existence.

[The Patriots] were the team that nobody wanted to use in TecmoBowl. Now, for everybody in America, you're cheating if you use Tom Brady in Madden.

Furthermore, from Cerrone:

There's teams in the NFL over the past 20 years that still haven't defeated Tom Brady. Still, over 20 seasons. There are organizations and fan bases that still have not seen a victory in front of Tom Brady.

As for the case for Belichick, Leroy laid out a simple case for Belichick and called him "possibly the greatest coach in sports history."

Hear more of the trial and thoughts on the latest Boston sports stories on the latest episode of the "That 617 Life Podcast", which drops every Friday as part of the NBC Sports Boston podcast network.

CURRAN: Are we watching Brady's final day with the Patriots?>>>

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Report: Patriots expected to re-sign Nick Folk on Saturday

Report: Patriots expected to re-sign Nick Folk on Saturday

It's no longer a mystery who will kick for the New England Patriots vs. the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.

The Patriots are expected to officially re-sign Nick Folk on Saturday, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. Folk was released by the team and replaced with Kai Forbath prior to last week's game vs. the Houston Texans after undergoing an appendectomy.

In three games with the Patriots this season, Folk has made seven of nine field goals and all three extra-point attempts. 

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