Stephen Gostkowskireceived so many text messages Tuesday, he first thought he was in trouble.
Turns out, the Patriots kicker had just made the Pro Bowl. He then gave his wife the exciting news.
"She's already ordering bathing suits," he joked.
When told about his teammate's initial reaction, fellow Pro Bowler Wes Welker said he wasn't as concerned that he might be in any trouble. The NFL's league-leader in receptions was well aware, he said, that yesterday was the day Pro Bowl rosters would be announced.
"I felt all right about it … I haven't been acting up too much," Welker added, grinning.
]()"It's an honor," Gostkowski, a first-time NFL all-star, continued. Especially considering he was drafted in 2006 to replace another kicking legend, Adam Vinatieri.
"Anytime you come in after a guy who's done what Vinatieri did, it's a little tough," Gostkowski acknowledged, though he added he's never really dwelt on that fact. He went on to praise the accomplishments of his predecessor here in New England.
"He paved the way for kickers, and has given kickers a lot of respect. I respect everything he's done. When fans come up and say, 'We haven't missed that guy,' it's nice to hear. You can't duplicate what that guy did, but you're mentioned in the same line, so, you're doing a good job, just like he did. And that's pretty cool."
Welker, also a first-time Pro Bowl choice, insisted he wasn't upset at not being voted to the all-star squad a season ago.
"Not really … yeah, I mean, sure, [being honored this year] makes up for it, I guess, but I didn't really feel like it was too much of a snub if you look at some of the receivers in the AFC last year. There were a lot of guys who really deserved to go."
Gostkowski, meanwhile, took his Q&A session with the media as an opportunity to lobby for another teammate to make the trip to Hawaii in February: long snapper Lonie Paxton. The coaches of the AFC and NFC teams will ultimately make that selection, so the Pats kicker put in a few good words for his friend.
"Hopefully, Lonie will get selected as the snapper. He's long overdue. It stinks that you can't vote on those players, but hopefully, the coaches will pick him."
Both players were quick to point out that before they can revel in their personal honors, their team has two more games to try to win to get into the playoffs.
"We've got two games left in our season and need to win both of them, and I need to put all my efforts and concentration into these last two games. When the time comes," Gostkowski said of his Pro Bowl selection, "I'll be excited for it."
"We have a lot of work to do," said Welker. "It's been the playoffs now for the past few weeks. We've gotta make sure we're prepared for Arizona and use our homefield advantage to our advantage."
That homefield advantage could be significant against the Cardinals on Sunday, as the early forecast calls for snowfall here in New England this weekend.
As a result, the team practiced on the Gillette Stadium game field Wednesday, which was a bit soggy due to a little, but persistent drizzle.
Three players were absent from the start of practice: safety James Sanders, LB Tedy Bruschi, and LT Matt Light, who left the Raiders game with a shoulder injury and never returned.
Four players were awarded black jerseys, the team's practice-player-of-the-week honor: TE David Thomas, DL Le Kevin Smith, and practice squad members Mark Dillard(safety) and Titus Adams(d-line).