The New England Patriots’ special teams unit never seems to be set. Bill Belichick’s passion for special teams is well documented. Perhaps that’s why the team has maintained something of a revolving door at key positions related to that phase of the game under Belichick’s watch over the past two decades, .
Most recently, the Patriots worked out three kickers who could perhaps push veteran Nick Folk and power-legged prospect Quinn Nordin for jobs on the team’s 53-man roster and practice squad.
Per Pro Football Focus’ Doug Kyed, the Patriots worked out Matthew Wright, Tristan Vizcaino and John Baron.
Folk wrapped up another solid season as the team’s No. 1 placekicker in 2021. Following a 2020 campaign that saw Folk make a career-high 92.9% of his field-goal attempts, he made 92.3% in 2021.
Still, Folk will turn 38 in November, and the Patriots are obviously looking to stay ahead of a potential drop-off from the veteran kicker. After all, Folk did miss five extra points in 2021, which is less than ideal.
Nordin may have one of the strongest legs of any kicker in or around an NFL roster, but battles with inconsistency in preseason prevented him from moving past Folk on the Patriots’ depth chart last season. It’s possible Nordin works out some of the issues he’s had with consistency and accuracy (considering he made just 72.4% of his field goals in his senior year at Michigan) and takes over the top job for the 2022 season.
If Nordin doesn’t find his way, it’ll open the door for one of the young kickers the Patriots are working out.
The Kickers Who Are Getting a Look Have a Wide Range of Experience
Wright has the most experience of the three kickers to get a look from the Patriots. The 26-year-old went undrafted in 2019 out of Central Florida after earning second-team All-Conference. He’s played for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Detroit Lions and Jacksonville Jaguars during his career, appearing in 17 games along the way.
When given the opportunity, Walker has been pretty accurate. He’s converted 25 of 28 field-goal attempts and 13 of 15 extra points. Like Nordin, he has a strong leg having made a 56-yarder for the Jaguars last season. After spending some time with the XFL’s Tampa Bay Vipers, Wright is getting another shot at making an NFL roster.
Also 26, Baron spent time with the Chicago Bears in 2019 after signing as a rookie free agent. The left-footer kicker was a standout at San Diego State finishing as a semi-finalist for the Lou Groza award and making first and second-team All-Mountain along the way. While he helped rewrite the school’s record books during his tenure with the Aztecs, Baron has yet to get a strong opportunity in the NFL.
Vizcaino is the youngest of the three at 25. He went undrafted in 2018 after a hit-and-miss career with the Washington Huskies. In the NFL, he’s proven to be a bit more reliable with nine field-goal makes in just 10 attempts. Vizcaino has bounced around in the NFL with the Los Angeles Chargers, Dallas Cowboys, Cincinnati Bengals, Minnesota Vikings, San Francisco 49ers and Buffalo Bills.
Perhaps he’s getting a chance to find his next home with the Patriots.
In Other Patriots News: Tre Nixon Was Strong at Minicamp on Tuesday
Tre Nixon, the last pick made by the legendary talent evaluator Ernie Adams performed well in minicamp on Tuesday, per CLNS’ Evan Lazar.
Per Lazar, the Patriots may have a dark horse to make their roster in Nixon who made several catches on Tuesday including a deep bomb from Mac Jones that drew some attention. It’s early but don’t sleep on Nixon’s chances of making the roster and bringing even more speed to a more athletic wide receiver group than the one the Patriots had in 2021.
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