One week after kicking his second game-winning field goal of the season and being named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week for the second time this season, Nick Folk will return home to play professionally in the city where he grew up for the first time.
"First NFL game back in LA, it'll be fun," said Folk, before adding, "I wish they could have fans, I wish my family could go. They'll all be watching from the couch I assume."
Folk attended high school at Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks, California, where he split time between the soccer and football team, eventually earning a scholarship to Arizona. Folk didn't think he would've made it to the NFL if not for his time at Notre Dame, where he was not only afforded some flexibility playing both sports, but also met his future kicking coach, Chris Sailer.
"I come to find out Notre Dame had a pretty rich tradition of kickers coming through there," said Folk, who chose to play football at Notre Dame to meet people and found himself at a place where special teams were taken seriously. "Luckily we could go to practice, I could take kicks at the beginning and then leave and go to soccer practice because that's what I want to do when I was younger, play soccer.
"I don't know if I would be here or play in the NFL if it wasn't for Notre Dame and kind of their philosophy and taking special teams seriously, kicking seriously, because if I couldn't have left practice early to go to soccer, I wouldn't have played football."
Folk added that he tries to get back to his high school field in Sherman Oaks to kick some field goals when he's back home, but that it's been a while since he's been able to.
Folk has been a pleasant surprise this season. Last year, he joined the team in Week 9 and was reliable, making all his extra points and hitting every field goal he attempted down the stretch and in the playoffs.
This season, Folk has been a weapon, sending both the Jets and Cardinals off the field with game-ending kicks. It's an unexpected resurgence for the 13-year veteran.
"Nick's done a great job for us," said Bill Belichick on Thursday morning. "He's a real pro, works very hard at his job and I would say handles the responsibility that comes with it as well as you could. He's got great poise and a great demeanor. I think everybody feels very confident when he goes out on the field which is a great feeling and it's something that you have to earn. It's not something that's given to you or you just pick up along the way. You have to go out there and earn it. He's certainly done that."
After winning his second AFC Special Teams Player of the Week award, Folk, like a true Patriot, was more focused on the team's goals.
"It's always nice to win that stuff but the individual awards in football are kind of on the back burner for me, personally, said Folk. "I just want to get a bunch of wins under our belt, get as far as we possibly can, hopefully make a good run and see where the season ends up."
Webex Quotes of Note
Michael Onwenu on the help he's received from the veterans preparing for Joey Bosa:
"Definitely, it's been a week long process. Everyone has helped me and gave me input and watching previous games. I've learned stuff about myself. Everyone has helped me and given their own little information of what I can do and how I can do it better."
Damiere Byrd on how the offense is working on better starts:
"Lately we've been going offense vs. defense, like right off the bat as soon as we get through warm ups. So within just jumping in the practice, we're jumping into team periods really fast and it's definitely helped and benefited both sides."
Jason McCourty on the importance of winning on the road:
"It's extremely important. Just for us right now in our season we have two big road games coming up and the only reason you're kind of packaging them together is because of the uniqueness of this trip. But for us, we're gonna have to go win on the road, we're gonna have some tough games in the way we positioned ourselves here this season. We're gonna have to play well on the road, so we have to go out there with the first game against the Chargers and we're gonna have to go out there and play well and execute well, especially on the backend."