By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
The Patriots still need to add a kicker to the main roster. But Bill Belichick has yet to decide publicly.
Belichick declined to name any starters in his Monday video conference ahead of Sunday’s season opener against the Miami Dolphins, which is nothing new. At quarterback, it can easily be inferred that team captain Cam Newton has won the job. But kicker remains up in the air, as returning veteran Nick Folk and rookie fifth-round pick Justin Rohrwasser were both signed to the practice squad.
Unsurprisingly, Belichick wouldn’t indicate whether he leaned one way or another as to who will win the Patriots’ kicker spot initially. But he did explain why he wanted to see more of Folk after signing him right in the middle of the winter in 2019.
“I think anytime you kick in New England in November and December you see a difference in the way the ball travels, not necessarily leg strength but the results of the kick are a little bit different in November and December than they are in August,” Belichick said. “So, I’d say it’s a little hard to tell just because the conditions are so different. Nick’s come in and obviously done a good job with us as we’ve put him on the practice squad and want to continue to work with him. We’ll just take it from there and see how it goes. He’s done a good job and hit the ball well. Justin [Rohrwasser] has as well.
“There’s a big experience gap here, but that’s not uncommon either. You just try make the best decisions we can on that. We’re fortunate we have two players at that position that are, I’d say NFL quality. Similar to the quarterback position, we’re fortunate to have depth in those spots and those are good ones to have them in.”
Under modified NFL rules for 2020, Belichick has more flexibility with the practice squad. He can elevate two players per week from the practice squad to the main roster, increasing the game day group from 53 to 55 players. He can send players back to the practice squad twice before they would have to clear waivers on the third move.
So if he wants to take all week to evaluate the kickers, Belichick can wait and promote either Folk or Rohrwasser to the main roster without having to make a corresponding move before Sunday’s season opener. In terms of pure practice stats, Folk has out-performed Rohrwasser to this point. Per Jeff Howe, Folk went 17-for-20 on field goals over a week’s time at the end of camp, while Rohrwasser went 11-for-20 in the same span.
According to Mark Daniels of the Providence Journal, Rohrwasser has been dealing with a lower body injury in his left leg, which he uses to plant his foot on kicks. Rohrwasser reportedly had a solid week of practice and the injury is behind him, which could give him a chance to make a comeback against Folk in the Patriots kicker competition.
Belichick hinted at more roster moves to come, so it’s possible that a kicker is elevated to the 53-man roster as soon as Monday. We’ll keep you updated with any and all transactions the Patriots make as they get ready for the start of the regular season.
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? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff or send him a nasty email at email@example.com.