FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Like most rookies, punter Zoltan Mesko isn’t taking anything for granted as he progresses through his first professional training camp.
“I’m taking a day-to-day approach to things,” the Michigan product and native of Romania said after Tuesday morning’s practice. “I can’t look too far forward into it. …These coaches, they don’t put it out that anything is guaranteed.”
It’s an appropriate attitude for the latest player at a position that has been a revolving door for the team in the past decade. From experienced veterans such as Chris Hanson to accomplished college punters like Tom Malone, the team has been unsuccessful at finding a long-term solution at the position.
In April, Mesko became the first pure punter drafted by the Patriots since Bill Belichick was named coach in 2000. As a fifth-round pick and the first player at his position off the board, expectations are high that Mesko can be the answer the team is looking for.
Yet he, like any other punter has to make a difficult adjustment to the professional game. “I thought I had most of it down, but there is definitely more of a mental game to punting than I thought,” Mesko admitted. “Now I don’t have classes to go to, so I have more time to devote to taking care of my body.”
There were also mechanical changes that Mesko had to make to his punting style in order to adjust to NFL rules. “I definitely had some things I needed to polish off,” he noted. “It’s the little things that add together.”
Six days into training camp, Mesko’s punting is noticeably more consistent than it was in offseason minicamps and even the first few sessions of training camp. Although he is the only punter on the roster, he is approaching things as if his place on the roster is far from secure. He will have to live up to his draft status each of the handful of times he takes the field during a game.
“It has to be quality over quantity, because in a game you’re called upon for one punt, and you have to deliver,” Mesko said. “I’d like to deliver for this team and make them that much better.
“[But] in the end, I still have to experience my own struggle.”