By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
Patriots rookie punter Jake Bailey is quickly showing why Bill Belichick traded up to use a fifth-round draft pick on him. And now the National Football League is taking notice.
The team announced on Wednesday that Bailey has been named the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week after the Pats' 30-14 win over the Jets in Foxboro. On a day where the Patriots offense sputtered for much of the game, Bailey came up big with seven punts for an average of 44.3 yards. His long kick against the Jets went 58 yards and he pinned the Jets inside their own 10-yard line four times.
His best highlight came on a tandem play with special teams ace Matthew Slater. Bailey dropped a punt right by the goal line and Slater did the rest, tipping the ball to the 1-yard line where Jonathan Jones was there to down it.
"Obviously Jake and I have had to start working it a lot more, we haven’t had a lot of time working on it together, but we’ve spent a lot of time at it," Slater said about the play after the game. "He gave me a ball that I could play, we try to make a play on it. It's nice to be able to contribute in a good team win like that."
Bailey is one of the major reasons that the Patriots have dominated on special teams almost as much as they have on defense. The rookie is making it that much harder for opposing offenses to drive down the field, and this week marks the first time the league officially recognized him for his efforts.
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at [email protected].