Ever since Ryan Allen won the Patriots punting job as a rookie in 2013, he's doubled as the holder for all of Stephen Gostkowski's placekicks. Both of those jobs have been entrusted to Allen over the past five years. This summer, though, Allen has competition in the form of strong-legged, undrafted rookie Corey Bojorquez.
When training camp opened on Thursday, Allen continued to hold for all of Gostkowski's kicks, but Bojorquez handled those chores on Day 2 Friday.
"Ryan and Corey have both been great, working hard. They're both doing a good job," remarked Gostkowski. Each kicker has his own preferences for the way he wants his holder to place the ball on the ground, and it often takes a while to get used to someone new. So, Gostkowski was asked to assess how Bojorquez has managed in that respect.
"So far, so good. A long way to go, and there's a lot of little nuances no one knows about or cares to know about, except for us," Gostkowski continued. "We work on them, and it's a comfort thing – the more you can trust somebody and are comfortable with them, the better you can attack the ball and have an idea where it's going. It's definitely not something that happens just after one time. It's a long process.
"I went through the same thing with a lot of other holders I've had. So far, so good, but it takes a lot of time and effort. I think he's willing to do that. It's nice to see someone try to work to make it easy for you."
For the past three years, Gostkowski and Allen have also worked exclusively with long snapper Joe Cardona. Given how closely the special teams trio works and the amount of time they must spend together, it's natural that they get along on and off the field. A reporter wanted to know if it is at all awkward to introduce a fourth wheel, so to speak, in the rookie Bojorquez.
"We're all professionals. Just because someone's in here or not, doesn't mean your job's on the line," observed Gostkowski. "You do your job and try to be a pro about it. You never know what could happen. It's not our job to tell how someone's doing over the other. I've been fortunate to be here 13 years and I've had a lot of different teammates in terms of snappers and holders. It's something you grow accustomed to."
Looking back at his rookie season a dozen years ago, Gostkowski chuckled as he scratched his stubble of a beard in thought.
"Man, that's a long time ago. Well, I remember having a lot more energy, no kids, wasn't married, didn't have any grey hairs. I was young, didn't know any better. I was just excited to have an opportunity, which I still have today. I don't think that's any different.
The thing about kicking is, it's not as competitive as other positions, but I feel like I am a competitor. So, I wanted to go out there and do the best I could."
"Steve's been great to work with," head coach Bill Belichick raved before Friday's practice. "I think he showed an incredible amount of maturity and poise his rookie year. He came into probably as difficult a situation as any player that I've ever – rookie player – that I've brought on to a team with the expectations that were with him and, obviously, with what Adam [Vinatieri] had done before he was here.
"Steve's been really consistent through all of these years. [He's] a very hard worker, has earned the respect of his teammates, he does everything that the team does in terms of training and conditioning and so forth. He's not on a special kicker program or anything like that. [He's] very accountable, dependable, physically and mentally tough player."
Back to the here and now, Gostkowski declared that he's happy with how he's performed after two days of camp.
"It was a really good start the first two days. I feel pretty good. You've got to chip away, have a couple of good days, then you might have a bad day, and you have to learn to get over it.
"Kicking is a weird thing. You can go stretches and stretches of just doing really good, then you could have one or two kicks that can derail you. You've just got to learn to ride the wave. Right now, I'm just riding the wave."
All right on the left
Since being drafted in the third round in 2016, Joe Thuney has started at New England's left guard spot the past two seasons. This past offseason, however, Thuney was limited in workouts due to a foot injury that reportedly required surgery.
Thus far in camp, he's been manning his usual position on the offensive line and hasn't seemed to miss a beat.
"It's going well," Thuney told reporters Friday. "Obviously, it's the second day of camp, so, a lot of room for improvement. I'm just trying to control what I can control and do what I can do.
"Each year you have to start from the ground up, keep working day by day, brick by brick. It's a long process. Just trying to get a little better each day."
Thuney has been working mostly alongside left tackle Trent Brown, one of the largest men ever to suit up for the Patriots at 6-8, 380.
"He's up there," Thuney grinned. "He's a really big guy, but he's working hard, athletic, real smart. It's going well."
Buy: Kyle Van Noy – The veteran linebacker has had a good start to camp, especially when he drops into pass coverage. He had at least two noticeable pass breakups downfield during 7-on-7 and team periods.
Sell: Malcolm Mitchell – Although he managed to appear on the field Friday, Mitchell almost immediately joined the PUP players rehabbing on the lower field. Coupled with his complete absence from the field a day earlier, this hasn't been an ideal start to camp for the veteran receiver.
Play of the Day: During a team period, QB Tom Brady sent a pass to wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson in the end zone, where CB Stephon Gilmore had Patterson covered like a glove. Patterson nevertheless managed to adjust his body enough to make a tremendous one-handed grab and complete the scoring play, even with Gilmore falling on top of him.
Quote of the Day: "There might not be kicking in the NFL by the time I get to 45." ~ Stephen Gostkowski joking about how long he intends to continue playing