Gostkowski: My confidence will always be high

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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."

Ohio State LB on Belichick: 'When you first meet him, you're scared'

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Ohio State LB on Belichick: 'When you first meet him, you're scared'

Even for some of the nation's top athletes, confident 20-somethings with the rest of their (perhaps very lucrative) lives ahead of them, there's a feeling you just can't shake when Bill Belichick walks into the room. 

"When you first meet him, you're scared," said Ohio State linebacker Raekwon McMillan, per WBZ. "He's quizzing you. It's like a little test. But after you get done with the test, the quiz or whatever, drawing up the defense, it's pretty cool. They're real down to earth people. Really cool."

Belichick was spotted at Ohio State's pro day getting a closer look at McMillan and his teammates on Thursday. He then headed off to Ann Arbor, Michigan for the Wolverines showcase Friday.

During various scouting trips across the country, the Patriots appear to be showing significant interest in the incoming class of linebackers. Belichick spent some extra time with Vanderbilt's Zach Cunningham -- who's projected to be a first-rounder -- at his pro day. The team reportedly scheduled a meeting with a speedy linebacker from Cincinnati. And Matt Patricia caught up with Notre Dame linebacker James Onwualu once his workouts finished up on Thursday. 

As for McMillan, the 6-2, 240-pounder was a second-team All-American and a first-team All-Big Ten choice. He's instinctive, but there's some question as to whether or not he has the strength to hold up inside at the next level.

PODCAST: Dan Wetzel on the Aaron Hernandez double-murder trial

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PODCAST: Dan Wetzel on the Aaron Hernandez double-murder trial

Tom E. Curran has Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports as a guest to discuss the Aaron Hernandez double homicide trial. Wetzel has been in the courtroom, and wrote this piece about the day Hernandez’s former friend Alexander Bradley testified in court. 

After speaking with Wetzel, Curran has Tim Rohan of MMQB.com on to discuss his day with ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.

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