Belichick: Punter a 'competitive situation'

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Through the first stretch of training camp, the one-on-one competition at punter between incumbent Zoltan Mesko and rookie Ryan Allen has been notable.

While teams sometimes sign a young kicker or punter as a "camp leg" to reduce the load on their top players at the position, Allen falls into a different category. The two-time Ray Guy Award winner at Louisiana Tech appears to be a legitimate threat to Mesko.

"I think he’s had a solid spring and training camp. It’s a competitive situation," Belichick said of Allen, who, like Mesko, is a left-footed punter.

"He does a lot of good things. Like everybody, we’re all striving for more consistency. He’s had some good plays, good punts [and] he’s very competitive."

Economics could ultimately be part of the consideration, as Mesko is set to earn $1.3 million in base salary in the final year of his contract. Allen, who signed a three-year pact as an undrafted free agent, would earn $405,000 if he makes the roster in 2013.

Allen also has practice squad eligibility, which could be part of the final decision-making process.

One other thing working in Mesko's favor is that he is also the holder on field goals and extra points. Allen previously said he didn't serve as a holder at Louisiana Tech, but the Patriots have him working on it in camp. Allen was the holder on Stephen Gostkowski's 53-yard missed field goal on Friday, while Mesko held on the others (34-yarder and missed 44-yarder).

"I think that’s been OK," Belichick said of Allen's work as a holder. "He needs more experience in working with Danny [Aiken] and Steve [Gostkowski]. I don’t think we’re there yet, but he’s doing all right."