Sophomore slumps are so named because bad times so often occur in someone's second year somewhere.
Patriots placekicker Stephen Gostkowski is hoping to avoid that as he enters year two here in New England. And he explained how he's trying to go about that.
"It's not so much about confidence, it's about being comfortable, finding that rhythm," he told reporters after practice Thursday. "The more I kicked last year, the more I got comfortable. I'm still working to build on that every day."
Another Patriot who's just happy to be at practice is safety Eugene Wilson. His tenure with the team has been marred by injuries.
"You love to be out there with your teammates," Wilson said Thursday. "It's just being out there, playing, going hard. And now that I am back out there, everything's good."
Meanwhile, tight end Benjamin Watson, a prime target of quarterback Tom Brady last season, is now one of the team's many offensive weapons.
He says he's just happy the squad is improving.
"The new additions, they're great players, and they're definitely going to make plays for us, or else the coaches wouldn't have brought them in here," Watson declared. "I'll do my best to get open like I did last year. If I get the ball, great."
His fellow tight end, newcomer Kyle Brady, is one of those new weapons. He told reporters Thursday that he's hopeful he can help the team win.
"As a guy at the stage of his career that I am — I didn't even think it would last this long — you want to go somewhere you can have fun, and having fun in this league usually means going where you can win. It's no fun in the middle of December when you have no chance."
With so many new receivers, Brady will need time to get used to what each one can do on the field. And there's sure to be a higher level of competition come training camp, which is motivation for Jabar Gaffney.
"We know that if we want to stay up there and have a chance to start on this team, we're going to have to come out here and work hard and bring our best every day because we have a lot of good receivers here."