Future Focus: Kicker, punter & snapper

January, 30, 2011
1/30/11
1:30
PM ET
Seventh in a series of positional "look-aheads" for the Patriots:

Specialists: Stephen Gostkowski (kicker), Zoltan Mesko (punter), Matt Katula (snapper)

Stat check: In his rookie season, Mesko ranked 19th in punting average (42.3) and 12th in net (38.4). He had 19 punts downed inside the 20 and five touchbacks.

[+] EnlargeMesko
Jim O'Connor/US PresswireThe Patriots used a fifth-round pick on Zoltan Mesko in the 2010 draft.
First instinct: The Patriots have their kicking and punting situations in good hands. The only question is whether they draft a snapper like they did in 2009 with Jake Ingram (sixth round).

Storyline not to be overlooked: Gostkowski’s recovery from surgery on his right quad. After Gostkowski was lost for the season Nov. 7 in Cleveland, the Patriots didn’t enjoy the same field-position type of advantage without his strong right leg booming kickoffs. Gostkowski’s recovery has been on schedule to this point and indications are that he should be ready to go for 2011.

Future: Gostkowski signed an extension last year that brings his pact through the 2014 season. Mesko is signed through 2013, while Katula is inked through the 2011 season.

Final thought: The Patriots have invested heavily in this area, with Gostkowski and Mesko the first specialists selected in the NFL draft in 2006 and 2010, respectively. They had hoped that Ingram, the first snapper drafted in 2009, would give them a trio that would grow together. The Patriots could try again at snapper, or stick with Katula, who seemed to do a solid job after he was signed to a two-year deal Nov. 10.

Your thoughts: What do you think the Patriots should do with specialists this offseason? Draft a snapper? Stick with Katula as snapper and worry about other needs? Share your thoughts in the comments section of this blog entry.

Mike Reiss

ESPN New England Patriots reporter

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