Perry: All eyes on the Patriots' kicker competition


FOXBORO -- We wondered if we might see a competitive scrimmage on the Gillette Stadium turf Friday afternoon. We wondered if undrafted rookies and unheralded free agents would have an opportunity to pop in a game situation in order to help their chances of making the team. 

Didn't happen. The Patriots announced they'd hold a "game simulation" late on Thursday night. Less than 24 hours later, that's exactly what took place. It was nothing resembling a game. It was a dress rehearsal of sorts, with players in blue and white jerseys -- no pads -- going through a half-speed walkthrough to mimic game conditions in their home stadium.

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Blue jerseys for Cam Newton's squad. White jerseys for Jarrett Stidham and Brian Hoyer's club. Shorts. Helmets but no pads. The officials in attendance wore stripes. There were headsets, too, for the White and Blue coaching staffs. Quarterbacks coach Jedd Fisch called plays for Hoyer and Stidham. Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels called plays for Newton. Steve Belichick served as defensive coordinator for the White squad, while Jerod Mayo did the same for the Blue team. 


There was no sign of Chase Winovich, Cassh Maluia or Lamar Miller (PUP) at the walkthrough. Will Hastings was also missing, and it was learned later that he'd been released. 


Joe Thuney was on the field and participating but had his left hand wrapped. Beau Allen, who reporters had not seen practice, was also present for the proceedings but did not participate. 


Jakobi Meyers was taking part in the practice, but he wore a red non-contact jersey. Rookie tight end Devin Asiasi, limited this week since suffering a lower-leg injury, was active in the practice -- though everything was run at a half-speed pace.


This was a true game simulation. The White team took the field as the visitors and actually booed themselves on the way out of the visitor tunnel. The Blue team took the field to Ozzy Osbourne's "Crazy Train" as the Patriots have done at Gillette Stadium for years. 

There was ambient white noise -- a low-level crowd "buzz" -- that was loud enough to make communication challenging. Music played between possessions and between quarters. The fog horn sounded for most third downs. 


There were no competitive throws made during the practice, but Cam Newton worked in for six offensive series. Jarrett Stidham started for the White squad and saw two-and-a-half series. Hoyer saw the same number. 

Why a half series? One of the situations Bill Belichick wanted his players to experience was a quarterback change mid-series. In the White team's first offensive series of the second half, Hoyer was instructed to fake an injury. He sold it well, hobbling all the way to the sideline, allowing Stidham to take over. 


The only true evaluation to take away from the practice might've been with the kickers. No way to half-speed your way through a 50-yard attempt.

Nick Folk got the afternoon going with a 50-yarder that was true for the White team. Justin Rohrwasser responded with a 50-yarder of his own later in the first quarter.

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Rohrwasser missed a 51-yarder wide left to end the first half, but the whistle sounded before his attempt. Timeout. Rohrwasser missed his second try from the same distance wide right before teams went into the locker rooms for halftime. 

In the second half, Rohrwasser made an extra point to get back on track. But with the score tied, 13-13, and only seconds remaining on the clock in the fourth quarter he took the field again. He made one from 49 yards to win the game . . . only the whistle blew prior to his kick. He was being "iced." It worked. When he attempted the 49-yarder again he missed wide right.

Folk missed his only other kick in the "simulation," hooking one wide left from 48 yards away. He went 1-for-2 on the day on field goals, while Rohrwasser was 1-for-3.