When the New England Patriots released emergency kicker Kai Forbath this past Monday following a 28-22 loss to the Houston Texans, it was the fourth time the Patriots were in need of a new kicker this season.
For much of the buildup to their Week 14 matchup with the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday in Foxborough, the Patriots were holding practice without any kicker on the roster. And on Friday morning, it appeared the Patriots were taking steps toward adding a familiar face back at the position.
Nick Folk, whom the team released last Friday after he underwent an appendectomy on Thanksgiving, was reported to have signed with the Patriots by the NFL’s Ian Rapoport.
Not long after, Rapoport stepped back, reporting that Folk is still a free agent and will kick on Friday at Patriots’ practice to test if he is healthy enough to play in Sunday’s game. This came after Bill Belichick would not confirm in his Friday morning press conference whether the team planned to sign Folk, mentioning health would come into consideration.
On Saturday morning, the team made it official by bringing back Folk and waiving defensive tackle Albert Huggins, whom they signed earlier in the week to replace Kai Forbath on the roster.
The Patriots have gone through four different kickers this season, exceeding the number of kickers they had over Belichick’s entire coaching tenure. After Stephen Gostkowski had season-ending hip surgery, Mike Nugent unceremoniously came and went, followed by Folk and then Forbath for a week.
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Who Kicks Field Goals if Folk Can’t Go on Sunday?
The Patriots could be facing a huge dilemma on Sunday if there is no formal kicker signed on the roster. New England has had trouble scoring in the red zone this season, meaning a field goal kicker could be paramount to staying in the game against Kansas City.
If no one is signed by Saturday at 4 p.m., it will likely be rookie punter Jake Bailey handling the kicking duties. Recruited as both a placekicker and a punter out of high school, Bailey was regarded as one of the top talents in the nation at both positions.
He ultimately settled on punting but has handled kickoff duties in the past while at Stanford and in his first season as a professional. It would be an emergency scenario that forces Bailey into action, though he could handle the role. The main problem would be finding a holder who could quickly fill in for Bailey — a role likely meant for backup quarterback Jarrett Stidham.
That Time a Position Player Kicked for the Patriots
The Patriots have had a couple of position players attempt kicks in the past. In 2010, when Gostkowski was injured in a game, receiver Wes Welker stepped up and hit an extra point in an emergency.
There was also the famous dropkick Doug Flutie hit for an extra point in a game against the Miami Dolphins late in the season. The Patriots lined up for a two-point conversion before Flutie dropped way back, fielding the snap and sending a perfect dropkick through the uprights.