The Patriots are making a change at punter heading into the second half of the season.
New England placed former All-Pro punter Jake Bailey on injured reserve due to a back injury and signed veteran Michael Palardy to the 53-man roster. Palardy punted in all 17 games with the Dolphins last season following a stint punting for the Carolina Panthers and has experience holding and kicking off in his six-year NFL career.
Amid a down season, Bailey will now miss at least the next four games. The Pats punter, holder, and kickoff specialist ranks 31st in net average (35.3), and New England's punt coverage unit is 27th in Football Outsiders' DVOA metric. Bailey signed a three-year extension with the team over the summer but, statistically, has been one of the league's worst punters over the last two seasons.
Acknowledging the punting could improve, head coach Bill Belichick gave his insight into Bailey's struggles at his Friday press conference.
"It's been good, and then it hasn't been consistent. So, it's not like it's all bad, not like it's all good. It's just — it's inconsistent, so I think there's a number of areas we can improve in, we've got to improve in. But each person's got to do — obviously, it starts with the specialist, but there's other things that we need to improve in," Belichick said.
With an experienced veteran now on the roster, Bailey's inconsistencies and injury present an opportunity for Palardy to push the 2019 fifth-round selection for the role in the second half of the season.
As far as Sunday is concerned, Palardy is expected to punt and hold for kicker Nick Folk. But it remains to be seen who will handle kickoffs. For what it's worth, Palardy didn't kickoff for the Dolphins last season, as kicker Jason Sanders handled those responsibilities and only has seven career kickoffs. Folk, on the other hand, has significant experience kicking off, so past experience suggests that the Pats kicker will fill that role.
Other than the switch at punter, the Patriots did not make any other roster transactions and didn't elevate any players from the practice squad for Sunday's game against the Jets.
The Patriots host the Jets with kickoff at 1 pm ET at Gillette Stadium on Sunday.