It looks like the New England Patriots are headed for a competition at the punter position in training camp, and incumbent Zoltan Mesko will finally have some company for his job as he heads into his contract year. I highly doubt the Patriots signed a two-time Ray Guy winner in college shortly after the draft as an unrestricted free agent in order to just sit there. Ryan Allen was college’s best punter at Louisiana Tech, and he has an outside shot at beating out a solid punter in New England in Zoltan Mesko. I don’t want to see Mesko lose from a personal side, but Allen is cheaper and would be an easy replacement if he proves to be significantly better.
Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
Therein lies the key word, significantly. The Patriots aren’t going to replace Mesko for Allen unless if Allen clearly outperforms him in training camp and does so by a significant margin of victory. The Patriots aren’t going to dump off a quality punter for a punter without any NFL experience, unless if the rookie P proves to be just that good in training camp.
Anyway, Mesko is taking the competition in stride and told Toucher and Rich, “I’m a pretty friendly personality. I will talk [to him], but at the same time we both understand it’s business and make the best of healthy competition. We know it’s going to get us both better at the same time. We may say we don’t like competition, but deep down inside we like it because it gets us better and keeps us on our toes.”
Man, that is an awesome final sentence from Mesko, and it is true; the competition is going to be good for Mesko because it’s going to keep him on his “toes” and allow him to break loose and really show his tough. This could be a big coming-out thing for Mesko, and I feel like he can do better than what he showed is in a decent-but-not-Mesko-like 2012 campaign. I won’t be mad if Allen wins since he seems like a legit punter of the future, but I am really hoping Mesko holds on. In my opinion, it is best to have Mesko win and keep Allen stashed on the practice squad for next season when Mesko’s contract runs out (in case Mesko gets a better deal elsewhere). But it’s a long way to go until training camp, so we’ll see what goes down.
You can follow Joe Soriano on Twitter @SorianoJoe.