Better offseason for Gostkowski

NASHUA, N.H. -- Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski helped the Nashua Silver Knights of the Futures Collegiate Baseball League kick off the 2012 season this weekend by kicking autographed footballs into the stands.

The appearance, on Sunday, offered a chance to catch up with Gostkowski, who enters his seventh NFL season in 2012.

After a quad injury cut his 2010 season short and the lockout cut into his 2011 offseason, Gostkowski said he “feels good,” and is enjoying getting back to work in a normal offseason.

“Being healthy, it's a lot less tedious work -- having to do all the rehabbing stuff -- and it's nice to not be locked out and to be up at the facility every day working out with the coaches and staff. It's a lot easier to get ready for the year when you have the advantages of all the amenities at the stadium.”

The injury didn't have much of an effect on his statistical performance -- he made 84.8 percent of his field goals in 2011, half a percentage point higher than his career average from 2006-2010 -- but Gostkowski pointed out it wasn't always easy.

“It was a little harder to get loose, get going,” he noted. “You feel the effects, but it's nothing you can't work through.”

As for how he's trying to improve individually in 2012, Gostkowski said, “I'm not a big stats guy. I obviously try to make every kick, and then if I miss ... I just try not to miss two in a row. I look more at whether I helped the team win or not. That's the only stat I really care about.”

Gostkowski was asked about Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff's miss that sent the Patriots to the Super Bowl, and said, “I was excited that we won, and that we were going to the Super Bowl, but at the same time, I would have rather been able to kick our team into it than see someone [miss], but it's part of the game. It could just as easily happen to me, or anyone else in the NFL.”

Gostkowski went to the University of Memphis on a baseball scholarship (he was a walk-on on the football team), and he voiced his enthusiasm for the game and the Silver Knights.

“[I'm excited] to get to come out on a very nice day, watch a game, get to kick a couple of footballs to people,” he said. “It's always a fun time [to watch] how crazy they go after the footballs. [There are] a lot of nice people up here. They were very nice to me last year, so it was easy to say yes to come back.”

Gostkowski, who said his offseason has consisted of family time, golf and staying in shape, also did the honors of throwing out the opening pitch. True to form, his pitch went right over home plate.