Mesko optimistic about playing Sunday

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Mesko optimistic about playing Sunday

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com Celtics Insider
Follow @sherrodbcsn
FOXBORO New England Patriots punter Zelton Mesko is feeling a lot better now than he did on Sunday when a teammate was pushed into his leg in the third quarter of New England's 35-21 win.

Feeling better is one thing.

Good enough to play?

You can file that one under 'wait-and-see' as the Patriots put the finishing touches on their preparation for Sunday's game at Buffalo.

Mesko was limited in practice on Friday, but the Patriots say he's questionable for Sunday's game.

He may not have the high profile position of quarterback or star receiver, but his value to the Patriots can not be overlooked.

New England faces a Buffalo Bills squad that has the highest-scoring offense (39.5 points per game) in the league, blending an efficient spread offense that's equally challenging on the ground or through the air.

Dealing with a team that explosive, the battle for field position becomes even more vital to success.

That's where Mesko comes in.

Although he's only averaging 39.5 yards on six punts, the Patriots understand all too well the impact he can make on a game.

And while it's still unclear if he'll play Sunday, the Pats would likely have kicker Stephen Gostkowski pull double-duty as the team's kicker and punter.

"I don't know," was Bill Belichick's response when asked about having Gostkowski handle both duties. "Whatever we do, we'll do what we think is best for the team. Whether that's to bring in a punter or not bring in a punter. However we handle the situation, we'll look at our options and try to pick the best one. The best one would be Zoltan doing what he's here to do. But if he can't do it, then we'll have to figure something else out."

The fact that Mesko did practice with the team on Friday was encouraging, but the ultimate decision on whether he'll play will come from the Belichick and medical team.

"I'm looking forward to helping the team out," Mesko said. "I'm going to do what it takes to get out there, and give it all I got."

Not only does Mesko punt for the Patriots, but he's also the holder for kicker Gostkowski.

After the injury occurred, Mesko did not kick again, but he did resume his role as holder.

"It was a weird feeling," he said of the injury. "I knew I had a duty to Steve and try to make it a go."

That was Mesko's mindset on Friday, which is similar to his approach to Sunday's game.

Feeling more like himself certainly bodes well for his chances of playing.

But Mesko, much like Patriots fans, will enter Sunday's game in 'wait-and-see' mode.

"I'm the eternal optimist," Mesko said.

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached at sblakely@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn.

Wilfork on Body Issue: 'Looking forward to what the locker room's going to say'

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Wilfork on Body Issue: 'Looking forward to what the locker room's going to say'

ESPN The Magazine's Body Issue won't hit newsstands until July 8, but Vince Wilfork gave people a not-so-little preview of what to expect this week.

The former Patriots defensive lineman, who is listed at 325 pounds but said he's weighed as much as 350 pounds, sat down for an interview about his size that landed on ESPN.com on Thursday.

"I just think it's a good idea for people that are bigger-boned," Wilfork said when asked why he posed nude for the Body Issue. "If people can look at me, a guy that's 325-plus, doing an issue like this, I'm pretty sure that they might have a little confidence.

"There will be critics, just like with everything else. I think a lot of people will get a laugh out of it, I'll tell you that. I'm looking forward to what the locker room's going to say. But at the end of the day, I'm perfectly fine with who I am as a person and what I have accomplished. It shows a lot of my personality."

You can read the full interview here, as well as watch a video that shows Wilfork in all his modeling glory.

Brady, Gronkowski make Top 10 of NFL Network's Top 100

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Brady, Gronkowski make Top 10 of NFL Network's Top 100

Ask a football fan in New England, and he or she might tell you that Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski are the top two players in the NFL. A random NFL player might not be as generous, but on balance, Brady and Gronkowski's peers consider the Patriots stars to be among the top 10 talents in the league. 

The NFL Network announced the final 10 players to be included in their annual Top 100 list, a list voted on by players, and both Brady and Gronkowski made the cut.

The order of the top 10 has been determined, but has not yet been announced. Brady and Gronkowski are in the running for No. 1 alongside Odell Beckham Jr., Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, Luke Kuechly, Cam Newton, Adrian Peterson, Aaron Rodgers and JJ Watt. 

The weekly series, which has counted down Nos. 100-11, will end on Wednesday, July 6 with two, one-hour episodes on NFL Network at 8 and 9 p.m. Highlights of each player will be featured, as will interviews with some of their teammates and competitors. 

"He plays with a chip on his shoulder he’s always had," Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins said of Brady, "that really separates him."

Of Rob Gronkowski, Texans corner Charles James II said, "He's a glitch on Madden."

The only other Patriots players included in the Top 100 were Julian Edelman (who came in at No. 87) and Chandler Jones (No. 48). Jones, now a member of the Cardinals, was the only Patriots defender involved. 

Corner Malcolm Butler, linebackers Jamie Collins and Dont'a Hightower and safety Devin McCourty all had an argument to be included but were left off. 

NFL.com contributors Gregg Rosenthal, Chris Wesseling, Maurice Jones-Drew and Ike Taylor put together their own individual Top 100 lists to supplement the one voted on by current players. Rosenthal included Collins (No. 64), McCourty (No. 73) and Butler (No. 99) in addition to Edelman (No. 84). Wesseling included Collins (No. 43), McCourty (No. 88) and Hightower (No. 91), but not Edelman. Jones-Drew included both Edelman (No. 62) and Butler (No. 95). Taylor included only Edelman (No. 89).