Over the coming weeks leading up to training camp Patriots Today will be debating some of the more interesting individual positional battles that will be taking place in New England. After Brian Lowe and Jackie Brittain make arguments for the players who'll be competing for roles and jobs this summer, the PFW staff will analyze the debate and declare a winner. We continue the series with a look at the battle at punter!
Zoltan Mesko vs. Ryan Allen
The arguments: Brittain maintains that the veteran Mesko is dependable, and that the punter position isn't a high priority for New England this season. She also cites his solid production in keeping punts downed inside the opponents' 20-yard lines. Lowe insists he'd be surprised if Mesko doesn't make the roster, but is very intrigued by the competition provided by the rookie Allen, who twice won the Ray Guy Award as the nation's top collegiate punter. Lowe hedges his bets a bit by saying Mesko should make the club, but that Allen could wind up on the practice squad because he's too valuable a commodity to let go.
The verdict – Mesko: As Brittain correctly points out, Mesko has done nothing over the past three seasons to warrant losing his job. In fact, he has done nothing but improve over that time. So, yes, it would be stunning if Allen somehow found a way to beat him out, even with the rookie's impressive college credentials. This is not unlike the placekicking situation several years ago, when New England had a rookie "battling" Adam Vinatieri. Of course, Mesko is nowhere near Vinatieri in terms of bona fides in this league, but the rookie who was brought in was no slouch either. His name was Robbie Gould, and he has since been the kicker for the Chicago Bears, and a very good one at that. The Patriots have a good thing going with Mesko as their punter, not to mention holder for Stephen Gostkowski's placekicks. It would be unwise to part with him at this stage. Allen is certainly auditioning for a job this summer, but if he wins one, it'll most likely be with one of the other 31 teams in the league.
Now it's your turn to weigh in. Who has a better chance of making the Patriots roster at punter – Zoltan Mesko or Ryan Allen?
What do you think of the battle between Mesko and Allen? Let us know with a comment below!
PHOTO GALLERY: Training Camp Position Battle: Zoltan Mesko vs. Ryan Allen