BOSTON (CBS) — As the Patriots enter the dog days of training camp, there is a new competition brewing on the roster. With Nick Folk rejoining New England over the weekend, rookie kicker Justin Rohrwasser suddenly has another swinging leg to compete with.
Rohrwasser has had his share of struggles throughout camp, but that isn’t what prompted the team’s first kicker competition in camp since 2006. As Bill Belichick explained Wednesday, the Folk signing had been in the works for months.
Now, Folk and Rohrwasser will have just under two weeks to settle the competition.
“Both players are good kickers and we’ll see how it goes. That’ll be up to them to decide,” Belichick said of New England’s new competition at kicker. “We’ve talked to Nick throughout the spring and training camp. Things worked out here last week so it’s great to have him. He came in and did a great job for us last year.”
Folk swung his right leg for the Patriots last season after Stephen Gostkowski was lost for the year. Including the playoffs, he hit 16 of his 19 field goal attempts and all of his 13 extra points over eight games, and is now back to compete against the fifth-round pick in 2020.
It sounds like the Folk would have been in camp a lot earlier, but outside factors got in the way of him rejoining the team until the weekend.
“Things just didn’t work out until recently with Nick. I’m glad they did and I’m glad he’s here. We’ll see how it turns out. Both of those guys will get as much opportunity as we can give them,” said Belichick. “We’ve been talking to Nick since March, so it’s not something that just came up a few days ago. It’s been an ongoing conversation for a couple of months.”
Folk and Rohrwasser have shared kicking duties over the last two days. There are 11 days left until Belichick and has staff have to cut down the roster, and with no preseason games to show off their leg, splitting the uprights at practice is all the kickers have to earn their job.
While the Patriots were likely hoping for long-term stability at the position when they drafted Rohrwasser, bringing in the 35-year-old Folk is a good safety net. It should also give Rohrwasser a little more motivation every time he takes the field.
Belichick said that the Patriots are hitting the “dog days of training camp” on Wednesday, and now is the time when positional competitions really come into focus.
“We’ll get a good chance going forward to evaluate where everybody is at and how they’re doing relative to their competition at their position or competition on the other side of the ball,” said Belichick. “We’re in a position where players know what they’re doing, what they’re working with, and we’ll see how the competition unfolds at every position.”