Patriots

Bill Belichick on the kicking competition: ‘That will be up to them to decide’

Justin Rohrwasser. AP Photo/Steven Senne, Pool, File

Quarterback isn’t the only position where the Patriots appear to have a competition for the starting job.

According to coach Bill Belichick, the role is also open at kicker.

“We’ll see how it goes,” Belichick said Wednesday. “That will be up to them to decide.”

The Patriots have two kickers on their roster: fifth-round pick Justin Rohrwasser and 35-year-old Nick Folk.

The team signed Folk on Sunday, prompting some to wonder whether the move was in response to Rohrwasser’s performance. The Athletic‘s Jeff Howe also reported Rohrwasser was “dealing with an injury,” which explains why he didn’t attempt any live field goals all last week.

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But Belichick noted Wednesday conversations with Folk have been ongoing since March, a month before the team drafted Rohrwasser 159th overall.

“I mean, this isn’t something that just came up a couple of days ago,” Belichick said. “We’ve talked to Nick throughout the course of the spring, and even training camp. Things worked out here last week. It’s great to have him. He certainly came in and did a great job for us last year. But things just didn’t work out until recently with Nick. I’m glad they did. I’m glad he’s here.”

Folk was among the revolving door of kickers to come through New England last season in an effort to replace veteran Stephen Gostkowski, who was placed on injured reserve and later released. Folk had the longest tenure of the bunch, playing in seven regular-season games. He made 14 of his 17 field goal attempts, along with all 12 of his extra-point attempts.

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Rohrwasser, who made headlines for his now-removed tattoo that matched the logo of the Three Percenters, began his college career at the University of Rhode Island before transferring to Marshall. In two seasons at URI, Rohrwasser made 15 of his 20 field goal attempts (75 percent) and 39 of his 41 extra-point attempts (98 percent). In two seasons at Marshall, he made 33 of his 42 field goal attempts (78.6 percent) and 79 of his 82 extra-point attempts (96.3 percent).

As for how they’ve fared in practice so far? NESN’s Zack Cox called Rohrwasser “erratic.”

“He made one from 50ish range but had two that were so wide left that they missed the screen,” Cox tweeted on Aug. 23. “Also a few other misses. Not ideal.”

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Other reporters have also weighed in.

“I only saw a couple of Justin Rohrwasser kicks early in practice and they were way off the mark,” the Providence Journal‘s Mark Daniels tweeted on Aug. 24. “When the full team came on the field, he went 3/4 from around 40-ish yard. Nick Folk went 4/4.”

“Folk’s ball is much more true and high,” tweeted Boston Sports Journal’s Greg Bedard. “Rohrwasser’s striking is much less consistent.”

Neither player has spoken to the media since training camp began.

So, what does Belichick think?

“I think both players are good kickers,” Belichick said. “We’ll see how it turns out. I don’t know. Those two guys will both get as much opportunity as we can give them. We’ll evaluate them and go from there.”

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