Punter Mesko braces for challenge from Ray Guy winner
BRAINTREE, Mass. — For the first time since being drafted by the New England Patriots in 2010, punter Zoltan Mesko will face competition for his job.
Former Louisiana Tech punter Ryan Allen, who went undrafted last week, tweeted on Saturday that he will be joining the Patriots.
“Ready to take my talents to New England!” Allen tweeted. “Excited to compete and be a part of a first class organization! … Cannot wait to grind toward success as a Patriot!”
Last season, Allen became the first back-to-back winner of the Ray Guy Award, given annually since 2000 to the best punter in college football.
Meanwhile, Mesko enters the final year of his rookie contract. Statistically, he saw a slight drop in his gross punting average last season (43.1 yards per punt after posting a 46.5 mark in 2011), although that may have been offset in part by a career-high 28 punts downed inside the 20-yard line.
On Wednesday, Mesko told ESPNBoston.com that he is ready to embrace the competition.
“I’ll control what I can control,” he said. “It’s healthy competition and that’s what got us here in the first place. So I welcome whatever the coaches feel is best for me.”
This is the first time in his NFL career that Mesko, who was selected in the fifth round out of Michigan in 2010, could enter training camp battling with another punter on the roster.
“If Ryan has any questions, I’ll be happy to answer them,” Mesko said. “Get him caught up to things.”
Mesko and special teams captain Matthew Slater were in Braintree on Wednesday, speaking to students at Ross Elementary School about the importance of physical activity.
“What better way to form your habits as a kid when you’re a sponge and will absorb things from your role models?” Mesko said.
—This story was originally posted on ESPN.com