October 1, 2023


Nick People and Chad Ryland have been battling for the kicker job this preseason.

Fourth-round rookie Chad Ryland has taken a lot of the kickoffs for the Patriots this preseason. Barry Chin/Globe Employees

When the Patriots chosen Chad Ryland within the fourth spherical of the 2023 NFL Draft, a number of assumed that Nick People’s time in New England was set to finish.

However Patriots coach Invoice Belichick didn’t rule out the potential for maintaining two kickers on the roster when he spoke with reporters on Saturday.

“We had two kickers final 12 months on the roster for one sport,” Belichick mentioned when requested if he would ever contemplate maintaining two kickers on the 53-man roster. “Once more, there’s numerous issues to contemplate once you have a look at the entire roster make-up.

“We’ll get into these this weekend and do what we really feel is greatest for the group. That’s all I can inform you.”

As Belichick alluded to, the Patriots may have a number of selections to make within the subsequent few days. Groups throughout the league must trim their rosters all the way down to 53 gamers by Tuesday at 4 p.m. New England continues to be carrying a 90-man roster as of Saturday morning, which means it’ll have to chop at the very least 37 gamers.

The Patriots didn’t get to see a lot of the competitors unfold throughout their three preseason video games. New England solely had one discipline purpose try through the preseason with People making a 44-yard kick within the first quarter of the preseason opener.

However Belichick mentioned he’s been capable of see greater than sufficient from People and Ryland at follow.

“You already know, we haven’t kicked a discipline purpose in preseason, so it’s all been touchdowns and no discipline purpose makes an attempt,” Belichick mistakenly mentioned, although he wasn’t far off. “We’ve had loads of them in follow, and that’s what we’ve to go off of. They’ve each had actually good camps, in order that’s a fairly tight competitors.”

People was considered as one of many Patriots’ higher gamers for a lot of the previous few seasons. The 38-year-old was correct over the 2020 and 2021 seasons, making 62 of 67 (92.5 p.c) discipline purpose makes an attempt throughout that point. He additionally made an NFL file 64 consecutive kicks from inside 50 yards, a streak that resulted in October of final season.

As People was rather less correct final 12 months (he made 86.5 p.c of his kicks) and struggled with longer discipline targets (he transformed 73.7 p.c of his kicks from at the very least 40 yards out), the Patriots opted to draft Ryland, who was recognized for his large leg in school. The Patriots made him the highest-selected specialist within the Belichick period once they drafted him with the 112th general decide.

Ryland has taken extra kickoff alternatives than People this preseason, kicking off seven occasions as People’s solely finished it twice. Ryland transformed 5 of his kickoffs into touchbacks, too. Each kickers made their two point-after makes an attempt as nicely.

However Ryland has reportedly struggled at occasions throughout coaching camp, lacking a number of tries in a row throughout follow on Tuesday. Belichick has by no means lower a wholesome rookie chosen within the first 4 rounds throughout his time in New England, so Ryland is probably going protected. However missed kicks like that would open the door for People to stay on the roster.

Along with the kicker battle, the Patriots have additionally used two punters in coaching camp within the preseason. Sixth-round rookie Bryce Baringer and veteran Corliss Waitman are each battling for a roster spot.

Belichick talked about the competitors at punter when he was requested concerning the kicking competitors on Saturday.

“Similar factor with the punter state of affairs, Corliss had two large punts final night time, one out of the top zone, so we’ll see how that goes,” Belichick mentioned. “It appears like we’ve acquired an excellent competitors at each of these spots.”

Whereas Waitman had a formidable night time Friday, it seems that Baringer has the within monitor for the punter job, as he’s taken a lot of the reps within the preseason and in follow.