Kickin’ It Old School – Special Teams

by Chris Warner, Patriots Daily Staff

When Adam Vinatieri was allowed to go to the land of racecars and sweater vests in 2006,  many thought it would take forever to replace him. Well, forever lasted a few months, until New England drafted Stephen Gostkowski.

Other components of the unit have yet to be determined. While punter Chris Hanson has done enough to stick around, snapping duties will change hands for the first time in almost a decade.

What I Like

Ghost In The Machine: Gostkowski made 36 of 40 field goals last year (90 percent), and has made 85.6 percent in his career. We’ll take it.

Gone With The Wind: So went the concerns with Hanson after his phenomenal punt against a Buffalo gale in the 2008 season finale (I’d love to link video for this, but I only found that “To Catch a Predator” guy). Bill Belichick called Hanson’s punt “the play of the game.”

Warrior, Come Out To Play: New England drafted Hawaii long snapper Jake Ingram in the sixth round, securing the number-one-ranked player at the position. He’ll compete with former Cardinal Nathan Hodel.

And He Gets Your Gunner: New players (Vinny Circiu, Brandon McGowan) and a new coach (Scott O’ Brien) should bring some excitement to coverage and returns.

What I Don’t Like

Snappy Comeback: Former Pat long snapper Lonnie Paxton never missed. You can’t improve on perfection.

Punt Of Argument: Will the real Hanson please show himself? While he had an overall solid 2008 (43.7-yard average), his less-than-finessed punts have led to mediocre career numbers (36.2).

Is That All There Izzo?: Special teams maven Larry Izzo left for Purgatory, bringing uncertainty to a once-consistent position.

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