- Mike Rodak, ESPN Staff Writer
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At an owners meeting on Tuesday in Atlanta, the NFL mandated that all players wear thigh and knee pads beginning in the 2013 season.
Among the players who typically do not wear the extra leg padding are specialists, particularly kickers and punters.
Speaking to ESPNBoston.com on Tuesday afternoon, Patriots punter Zoltan Mesko said that he has not worn knee or thigh pads in his two seasons in the NFL, but used them while playing in college at Michigan.
However, going back to wearing pads next season will not be a problem for Mesko.
"They don't bother me. I haven't worn them the past two seasons, but it's not something that's going to restrict me in any way," he said. "It is what it is. I'm sure guys will adapt to it. It may take you a week of wearing them to get used to it. But I don't view it as a big change. But if it's for the safety of the players, I'm all for it."
Mesko noted that Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski has worn pads "on and off" over his career, but that recently Gostkowski has gone without the pads, and Mesko has followed his lead.
The NFL is delaying the rule until 2013 to allow manufacturers to design the pads for "safety and comfort." Mesko expects that slimmer pads will be an option.
"You can make those as big as you want, or as small as you want," he said.