It's been a rough Thanksgiving week for Nick Folk.
First, the Patriots kicker had to undergo an emergency appendectomy Thursday morning. And then on Friday morning, New England released him, signing veteran Kai Forbath to the 53-man roster.
This doesn't necessarily mean Folk's kicking days in New England are over, however. He could still be re-signed later this season after he recovers from what was described as minimally invasive surgery, unless Forbath seizes the job.
Forbath doesn't have long to get settled. The Patriots travel to Houston for a Sunday night showdown with the 7-4 Texans.
"We'll do introductions so he can get to know everybody," said Bill Belichick at his Friday morning press conference. "We worked Kai out earlier this fall, about three or four weeks ago, so we'll see how it goes."
Forbath will become the Patriots' fourth kicker this season. Stephen Gostkowski played in only four games before landing on injured reserve, and Mike Nugent also lasted just four games before he was released to make room for Folk.
"Other teams in the league have gone through it. We've gone through it at other positions," Belichick added when asked about the team's kicking issues this season. "It's not what you want, it's not ideal, but you keep going."
This year's constant turnover is a huge change for the Patriots, who have had Adam Vinatieri and Gostkowski combine to miss just eight regular-season games over the last 23 seasons entering 2019. But Belichick says the relative stability with the team's long snapper (Joe Cardona) and holder (rookie Jake Bailey) has helped out this season.
"We've had a lot of continuity through the years where we've been able to keep a snapper, holder, and kicker together for multiple years at a time, rather than switching them out every year back and forth. Now we've had some transition, but we've had sustained periods of four or five years where there hasn't been a lot of change. Unfortunately there has been this year, but I think those guys have done a great job at minimizing the amount of movement and change. Certainly having those two guys being consistent makes it a lot easier for the kicker to come in and execute."
The 32-year-old Forbath has kicked for the Redskins, Saints, Vikings, and Jaguars over a seven-year NFL career. He hasn't been on an NFL roster since the end of last season, when he spent the last three weeks of the season with Jacksonville.
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