Gostkowski: My confidence will always be high


Gostkowski: My confidence will always be high

FOXBORO -- The answers weren't in the film. There were no bad snaps or shaky holds.

Try as one might to find a reason for why Stephen Gostkowski has gone into a bit of a slump, the Patriots kicker kept coming up with the same simple response: He has just plain missed.

"It's just a cycle and you go through the ups and downs," Gostkowski said. "You gotta ride the wave. I've got knocked off the board a couple times this year and I'm going to get right back up there, and go out there with confidence and self belief. I've made way more kicks than I've missed in this career. And you see other guys that you respect and think are really good and the same thing happens to them at some point in their career, and it's not the end of the world. It's four games into the year and you just look forward to the next game and the next kick."

Gostkowski missed his first two kicks against the Bills in New England's Week 4 win, 52-28. Though his misses didn't have a negative impact on the game's outcome for the Patriots, they extended the conversation surrounding Gostkowski that began after he missed a game-winning field goal at home against the Cardinals in Week 2.

Why had a guy who had made 84 percent of his kicks in his career missed three of his first 13 this season?

Gostkowski preferred to focus on the positive.

"The kicks I did miss weren't by much," he said. "It's just a little fine-tuning. My leg strength feels great. I'm crushing the ball in kickoffs. I just gotta pay a little more attention to detail. Things will work out. I've been working hard, I wouldn't change any way that I've prepared, I just gotta focus and execute better."

Gostkowski went on to make his third field goal attempt of the Bills game -- a 30-yarder in the fourth quarter -- but he said he was still fuming afterwards because of his misses.

"I'm pissed off no matter what after that game," Gostkowski said. "Even if I'd made seven field goals after that. I'm always hard on myself, but I also keep a good perspective and I move on. If I wasn't working hard and I wasn't giving it my all and I hadn't had success before, maybe I could look back and say I wish I'd have done something different. That's not the case. I feel good with the way I came in this season and I'm just gonna keep the same approach and keep kicking and that's all I can do."

Earlier this week coach Bill Belichick threw his support behind Gostkowski, who is in his seventh year with the Patriots and has the ninth-best field goal percentage in the history of the league.

"Steve, again, had some real good plays (Sunday)," Belichick said. "Again, thats an operation that involves more than one guy. Its not a pitcher taking the ball on the mound or a golfer teeing a ball up. Its a snap, a hold, a kick -- a whole process. Well keep working hard at it."

Gostkowski was asked about that three-man operation -- Danny Aiken is the team's long-snapper, while punter Zoltan Mesko holds for field goals -- and how it was functioning.

"It's good," he said simply.

All of Gostkowski's misses have been from beyond 40 yards. Though they were kicks he expects to make, they weren't chip shots. And until his miss as time wound down against the Cardinals, Gostkowski's Week 2 performance may have been the best of his career as he knocked down kicks from 46, 34, 51 and 53 yards so his physical skills certainly aren't waning. Just look at his kickoffs -- he's second in the league with 18 touchbacks.

But where does he go from here? What does he do to get back to looking like one of the league's most reliable kickers?

"Just go back to work," Gostkowski said. "Focus a little harder. It's not that I'm not kicking enough, I'm kicking plenty. It's not that I'm not practicing good. I'm practicing very good. It's just a matter of execution. I just have to do a better job of executing. I've been here before. I've missed two kicks in a row maybe twice in my career, but it has happened. Missed big kicks in my career going back to high school and I've moved on from that. There's no reason why I don't think that I could run off 10 or 15 in a row."

Gostkowski will have until Sunday before he has a chance to get on a roll, but he can deal with the wait. As a college baseball pitcher at the University of Memphis, he was used to playing and then having to live with the result until taking the mound again a week later.

Just as it was then from start to start, what happened last week is behind him, and he says he is ready -- physically and mentally -- to do his job against the Broncos.

"My confidence will always be high," Gostkowski said. "I've been doing this for so long and I've had so many ups and downs. Things have a way of working themselves out whether good or bad. I don't worry about things I can't control, I just control how hard I work and how hard I concentrate."

Report: Patriots RB Lewis expected to return to practice this week


Report: Patriots RB Lewis expected to return to practice this week

FOXBORO -- The Patriots will have a familiar face back on the practice field, it appears. 

According to NFL Media's Ian Rapoport, running back Dion Lewis is expected to begin practicing this week. Lewis has been on the physically unable to perform list since the start of the regular season. 

Lewis tore his ACL in a Week 9 win over the Redskins last season, landing him on season-ending injured reserve. He was able to participate on a limited basis during OTAs but then experienced a setback that required surgery before the start of the season. 

Once Lewis hits the practice field, the Patriots have a three-week window to place him on the active roster. The team currently has an open roster spot and could, in theory, activate him as early as this week. 

When healthy last season, Lewis as a dynamic all-purpose back whose quickness allowed him to make defenders miss both in tight spaces between the tackles and in the open field as a receiver. The Patriots have used James White as their primary sub back in Lewis' absence, and he's on pace for a career year, with 27 receptions for 244 yards and three touchdowns.