Rookie Allen 'confident' after unseating Mesko

Rookie Allen 'confident' after unseating Mesko
September 1, 2013, 6:45 pm
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Ryan Allen was a two-time Ray Guy Award winner as college football's top punter at Louisiana Tech,.

(USA Today Sports)

FOXBORO -- "A lot changes in these 48 hours," said Ryan Allen.

No kidding.

When NFL roster cuts were made Saturday, the 23-year old found himself firmly planted with the Patriots, unseating former three-year starting punter Zoltan Mesko.

"[It's] a little surreal. It's a big step in someone's life. It's a dream that I've always had," Allen told reporters after the regular season's first practice on Sunday.

"Zoltan was a great, great competitor, great guy. I learned a lot from him. I'm good friends with him and it was great to be under him and [kicker Steve Gostkowski] and [long snapper Danny Aiken], and have them show me how things are done in the NFL. Just how to carry yourself as a professional -- whether it's warming up, whether it's afterwards, taking care of your body," he explained.

New England saves $900,000 by signing the rookie instead of retaining Mesko. And it's not as though they're choking down dregs with Allen. He won the 2011 and 2012 Ray Guy Awards for college football's best punter while at Louisiana Tech, and was a consensus All-American as a senior.

If more than two punters were picked in the 2013 draft, Allen could have been the third.

So, considering the financial aspect, was it even a contest? Well, yes. Mesko had his strengths, including holding for the placekicker -- a seemingly simple yet painfully precise task. And though Allen did hold for his college field goal kicker every day in practice, he admitted he's never received a snap and placed the football in a game before.

"I've been watching and it's been coming along. I feel actually really confident about it and it's just now a matter of getting in sync with Danny and Steve," Allen said.

He'll work on proving that sentiment as soon as the regular season opener this Sunday: "I'm confident." For now, all he and the Patriots have are words and a fatter wallet.