As part of this slow time on the NFL calendar, when we'll be taking a break to recharge for the 2014 season, we introduce the pre-produced "checking the locks" series in which we analyze the players on the Patriots' roster who are "locks" to stick. Today, it's specialists.
ANALYSIS: Former Patriots punter Josh Miller once said that even though there wasn't another punter on the roster, he knew he was competing for his job regardless because of "speed dial" on the telephone, where the club had its emergency list of punters ready to go. That is the type of mindset that Gostkowski and Allen will have in 2014, as they are the only kicker and punter on the roster. Slater, one of the NFL's best coverage players and a perennial Pro Bowler, enters the final year of his contract and is a candidate for an extension. That leaves the competition at snapper as the main area to watch -- undrafted free-agent Tyler Ott of Harvard against incumbent Danny Aiken. If it's close, it wouldn't be a surprise if the team goes with Ott because he's signed for three seasons at cheaper dollars ($420,000 this year) than Aiken (one-year deal at $645,000).