Pats bringing Gostkowski along slowly

The Patriots appear inclined to use two kickers in their attempt to replace the departed Adam Vinatieri, writes Michael Smith.

Originally Published: August 21, 2006
By Michael Smith | ESPN.com
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Here are five observations on the New England Patriots, based on their Aug. 19 preseason game against Arizona:

1.
Let's be clear: No one is going to come in and truly replace Adam Vinatieri. But someone is going to kick field goals for the Patriots. Although Martin Gramatica hasn't kicked since 2004 and hasn't been any good since 2002, it wouldn't be a shock to see the Patriots -- considering they have only two quarterbacks worth keeping -- carry two place-kickers on the active roster rather than immediately entrust the kicking duties to rookie Stephen Gostkowski. Maybe have the more experienced Gramatica handle field goals and PATs for now while the rookie kicks off.

Gramatica has been more accurate in practice and made both his field-goal attempts in the preseason opener against Atlanta. Gostkowski has made all four of his attempts, including three Saturday night against Arizona, and his kickoffs consistently travel into the end zone or near the goal line. The Patriots spent a fourth-round pick on Gostkowski, who over his last two seasons at Memphis made nearly 86 percent of his field goals, so there is no way they'll let him go. Either it's his job or they carry two kickers. If New England decides to go with the rookie off the bat, he'll make his rookie mistakes, but in the long run he should be a good one.

Michael Smith

NFL Senior Writer
Michael Smith joined ESPN in July 2004 as a National Football League senior writer for ESPN.com, covering league news and major events such as the NFL Draft, NFL Playoffs and the Super Bowl, and continues to write breaking news stories. He is also a correspondent for E:60, ESPN's first multi-themed prime-time newsmagazine program, which debuted October 2007.

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