What happens if the Patriots have to go without Zoltan Mesko for an indefinite period of time?
|09.20.11 at 3:52 pm ET|
In the second half of Sunday’s game against the Chargers, Patriots’ punter Zoltan Mesko went down with what appeared to be some sort of left knee injury after a San Diego player blocked New England’s James Ihedigbo into Mesko. Mesko did not punt for the rest of the game, but limped on and off the field while working as a holder on an extra point for kicker Stephen Gostkowski.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick was asked about the state of New England’s punting game, specifically the possibility of bringing someone in to replace Mesko, presumably for the short term.
“We’re still working our way through those questions today, it may take longer than that,” Belichick said Tuesday. “I don’t know. It’s possible.”
Prior to drafting Mesko prior to the start of the 2010 season, the Patriots ran through a steady series of punters, a group that included Chris Hanson, Ken Walter, Todd Sauerbrun and Josh Miller. However, Mesko, who has averaged 39.5 yards per punt over the first two games of the season, has clearly distinguished himself in his year-plus that he’s been around — he finished his rookie year with a 38.4 net average to set an NFL rookie record for net punting average.
In short, replacing him would be a challenge.
“There are plenty of things that go into the punting position — it’s not like standing out on the driving range, teeing it up and hitting it as far as you can,” Belichick said. “Situation punting is probably over half the game in punting, whether it’s directional punting, rushes, plus fifty, end of the game or end of half-type situations. One deep, two deep, overload rushes, I mean you can just keep going.
“There are a million things that the punter has to deal with — the punter, then whole punt team, personal protector, snapper, [things] that everyone has to deal with. There’s certainly a lot more to it than just catching the ball and kicking it as far as you can, so that’s something we work on every week and it changes every week. Every team we play is different and then you always have to deal with the conditions and the situation within the game so there’s plenty of stuff going on there.”