FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Earlier this season, Patriots coach Bill Belichick made the point that his team was one of the few in the NFL that had drafted its kicker, punter and long snapper. It was a trifecta that seemed to produce a bit of pride for Belichick, especially considering that replacing kicker Adam Vinatieri and snapper Lonie Paxton was no small task.
Kicker Stephen Gostkowski (4th round, 2006), punter Zoltan Mesko (5th round, 2010) and long snapper Jake Ingram (6th round, 2009) were the first players drafted at their respective positions, which also reflected that the Patriots got their top players at each spot in those years.
Belichick's hope was that the Gostkowski/Mesko/Ingram trio would be together for years to come, yet the plan has gone off course this year because of injury (Gostkowski) and performance (Ingram).
At kicker, the Patriots have made the best of a bad situation Wednesday by signing veteran Shayne Graham. If there were more than 32 kicking jobs in the NFL, Graham almost certainly would have had a more consistent job this season. When the Giants needed an emergency option earlier this season, Graham was the first kicker they called.
The situation at snapper has to be a bit more disappointing to Belichick, because Ingram had a solid rookie season, with no major issues on any of his snaps. But this year was a different story, and if not for punter/holder Zoltan Mesko bailing him out and the Patriots winning games, Ingram's issues would have been more scrutinized. The Patriots gave Ingram as much time as they could to work through the struggles before making the move to sign replacement Matt Katula.