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The Patriots Need To Draft This Brilliant Young Star In 2023

Patriots

With Patriots punter Jake Bailey suffering through injuries and inconsistency, is it time for a new specialist?

Underperforming

The New England Patriots acquired six-year veteran Michael Palardy off the practice squad to take punter Jake Bailey’s spot after placing him on injured reserve due to a back issue on Saturday.

Bailey, who was named to the first team of the 2020 Pro Bowl, has had a difficult season. He is ranked 31st among eligible punters in terms of net punting and average punting (42.1 yards per punt) (35.3).

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Following their bye week, the Patriots included Bailey for the first time to their injury report on Wednesday. On August 1, the four-year veteran approved a $13.5 million contract extension with $6.5 million in guaranteed compensation.

Coach Bill Belichick said on Friday that 30-year-old Palardy has experience in those areas. Bailey also manages kickoffs and holds on field goals.

Palardy, who joined the Patriots’ practice squad on Nov. 1, is a seasoned No. 2. The 30-year-old left-footer averaged 44.7 yards per punt in 2021 while playing in 72 games in his career, including all 17 for the Miami Dolphins in the previous campaign. After having brief spells with eight different teams during his first two years as a professional, including the CFL’s Toronto Argonauts, Palardy spent the preceding five seasons with the Carolina Panthers.

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It’s unclear if Palardy will also handle Bailey’s kickoff responsibilities. In his NFL career, he has only kicked off seven times, but he did so in college at Tennessee and in high school at St. Thomas Aquinas (Fla.), where he was a classmate of former Patriots James White and Phillip Dorsett. In that case, veteran kicker Nick Folk, who has primarily concentrated on field goals and extra points since joining the Patriots in 2019, would take up those duties.

At least four games will be missed by Bailey. According to NFL regulations, players placed on IR must miss a minimum of four games. Bailey will undoubtedly miss the Patriots’ games on Sunday against the New York Jets, as well as the following contests against the Minnesota Vikings, Buffalo Bills, and Arizona Cardinals. The Las Vegas Raiders in Week 16 is when he may make his return earliest.

For the first time considering 2018 New England will switch to lefties. Palardy, a former rookie free agent who is currently playing for his seventh NFL squad, differs from Bailey in more ways than one. In contrast to his right-footed predecessor, the 30-year-old also punts with his left foot.

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Naturally, the Patriots have never been afraid to use a left-footed punter; under head coach Bill Belichick, Bailey is the exception rather than the rule. The first left-footed punter in New England since 2018 is now Palardy, though. Ryan Allen, who worked for the company for six years and won three Super Bowls, is being followed by him.

The Patriots require a new kickoff specialist and holder. The Patriots will need to fill two more positions on the special teams unit in addition to their punter if Bailey is placed on injured reserve because he also functioned as the team’s kickoff specialist and holder for a field goal and extra point attempts.

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Punt Star

Oklahoma punter Micahel Turk has been electric this season. When the Sooners were clinging to a seven-point lead against Iowa State, the senior punter blasted 61- and 60-yarders to turn the field, saving a number of games. The 60-yarder was stopped at the ISU 2-yard line, and the 61-yarder came from the OU 8-yard line. On each of Iowa State’s subsequent two possessions, OU’s defense recorded interceptions.

Turk has a punting average of 45.8 yards this year, which ranks sixth nationally and first in the Big 12. He is the first Sooner to win one of the Big 12’s weekly awards other than quarterback Dillon Gabriel.

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Against the Iowa Cyclones, Turk boomed six punts for an average of 49.3 yards. In comparison, the NFL average for punt distance is 45 yards. Turk’s performance against the Cyclones has not been a one-time occurrence. Throughout his entire time with the Sooners, Turk has hit 57 punts for an average of 46.5 yards. Against Oklahoma State, he punted a career-long of 11 times for an average of 49 yards. The punter and youtube star also had a record 67 yard punt, ranking him 12th in all of college football for distance on a punt and average distance.

Turk is the sixth-best punter in the country in what will be his final season wearing a Sooners uniform. His nickname of “hangtime” is well-deserved, and he’s the kind of player who can flip the field and change the course of the game. Without a doubt, Turk will be a notable punter for whatever NFL team gets lucky enough to draft him.

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