Just what the New England Patriots didn’t need — another injury.
This time, it’s at the kicker position once again. After Nick Folk, New England’s third kicker of the season underwent an emergency appendectomy on Thursday morning forcing him out of action for the near future, the Patriots were forced to scramble on Thanksgiving to find another kicker for Sunday.
New England had wrestled with the idea of letting Jake Bailey handle kicking duties for the week, but in the end, they opted to go with a more experienced option. The Patriots are reportedly signing Kai Forbath, according to ESPN’s Field Yates.
New England had brought Forbath in for workouts on two occasions when they were searching for kickers but elected not to sign him on those prior occasions. Forbath lost the kicking battle to Mike Nugent when Stephen Gostkowski was first injured and was not signed again after Nugent was cut.
Forbath has not kicked yet in 2019, last playing for Jacksonville during the 2018 season. In three games with the Jaguars, he went 4 for 5 in field goals with a long of 41 yards and was a perfect 3 for 3 on extra points. In his career, Forbath has hit 85.7 percent of his kicks and 94 percent of extra points he attempted.
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Why Not Use Bailey?
As a rookie, Bailey has already won two AFC Special Teams Player of the Week awards for his booming punts and strong kickoff skills.
But in his high school career, Bailey was the fourth-best kicker in the recruiting class of 2015 by ESPN. In high school, he hit 12 of 16 kicks including a 54-yard field goal as a senior. Three of his made kicks were from longer than 50 yards. On extra points, he was 26 of 27 albeit from 20 yards out.
When he wasn’t playing football in high school, Bailey was starring on the soccer pitch. His leg strength and accuracy speaks for itself, and the Patriots may have been best served to give him a shot.
Having not kicked field goals since high school, it would be a quick learning curve for the rookie and would take a long time to get him up to speed. New England is in need of a win with Baltimore hot on its heels for the top spot in the AFC, so having a reliable, experienced kicker is paramount for the weekend.
Corresponding Roster Moves
The Patriots needed to make a corresponding move in order to accommodate Forbath on the roster. And on Friday morning, New England made the tough decision to release Folk a day after his emergency appendectomy.
There was a possibility they place Folk on injured reserve or the NFI list to free up space. Folk has been good since joining the Patriots, despite missing two kicks in rough weather conditions last weekend.
It’s a less-than-ideal situation for the Patriots having to rotate through another kicker, but it had to be done. There is the chance New England brings back Folk once he’s healthy and recovered from his surgery, according to Ian Rapoport.