Patriots

Who will be kicking for the Patriots in Week 1? Belichick weighs in

Patriots

We have an open kicker competition in New England, it appears.

The Patriots selected Justin Rohrwasser in the fifth round of the 2020 NFL Draft after moving on from longtime kicker Stephen Gostkowski this spring.

But the Marshall product hasn't distinguished himself at training camp, missing several days of practice last week and struggling while on the field.

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That may explain why New England re-signed Nick Folk, who kicked in seven games for the team last season. In his video conference Wednesday, head coach Bill Belichick said the starting kicker job is up for grabs between the veteran and the rookie.

"I think both players are good kickers,” Belichick said. “We’ll see how it goes. That’ll be up to them to decide. ... Those two guys will both get as much opportunity as we can give them, and we’ll evaluate them and go from there."

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More notably, Belichick suggested the Patriots' plan all along was to bring in a veteran like Folk rather than hand starting kicker duties to Rohrwasser in his first season.

"We've talked to Nick throughout the course of the spring and even training camp," Belichick said. " ... He certainly came in and did a good job for us last year, but things just didn't work out until recently with Nick, and so I'm glad they did, I'm glad he's here and we'll see how it turns out.

" ... But we've been talking to Nick since back in March, so I mean, this isn't something that just came up a couple days ago. It's been an ongoing conversation for several months, actually."

 
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Belichick rarely addresses contract discussions with current or former players, but he clearly values Folk's experience as a 12-year NFL pro. The 35-year-old made 14 of his 17 field goal attempts for New England last season and all 12 of his extra point attempts.

The Patriots spent a draft pick on Rohrwasser, and the rookie still could emerge as the team's starting kicker. He'll have to earn the job, though.