Foot in his mouth again?
Kicker's comments are brushed aside
FOXBOROUGH -- There are certainly players in the NFL who speak their mind. Some have the cachet to do so. Kickers, in general, do not.
Indianapolis's Mike Vanderjagt, who has a street named in his honor near the RCA Dome, might be the most accurate kicker in NFL history (87.9 percent), but he drew some ire for comments he made on an Indianapolis television show, where among other things he said the Patriots were "ripe for the picking."
Asked yesterday about Vanderjagt's comments, Patriots strong safety Rodney Harrison didn't think much of them, and also offered up a new nickname for the guy whom teammate Peyton Manning once referred to as an "idiot kicker."
"He should focus on making the field goals and not what we're doing over here," said Harrison. "You have to be a jerk -- `Vanderjerk' -- if you sit there and criticize Peyton Manning and Tony Dungy, one of the best quarterbacks in the game and one of the best coaches in the game. And for him to put his foot in his mouth again, it just shows what type of character that he has. So he has no more time in my mouth."
Harrison was referring to an interview Vanderjagt did following the 2002 season, when he told a Toronto TV station around the time of the Pro Bowl that Manning didn't show enough emotion, that Dungy was too mild-mannered, and that the Colts needed "a guy who's going to get in somebody's face when they're not performing well enough."
Comments from kickers generally carry little weight. And why would a two-time Super Bowl champion team need the motivation of an opposing kicker's words to perform well? That's why Patriots punter Josh Miller took a lighthearted approach to the topic.
Asked whether Bill Belichick would use it as bulletin-board material, Miller said, "I don't know, tough question to answer. He'll probably use whatever it takes to get us fired up, not that we need it because it's a playoff game. It's a one-game season. Those comments probably won't sway it either way."
Miller is a friend of Vanderjagt, part of the fraternity of kickers.
"If he were in the locker room, I'd probably ask him a few questions, too," Miller said. "I know he's a great kicker, that's for sure. Over the years, he's always said some things here and there, and he's delivered on most of his comments. That's just him, that's the way he gets fired up.
"I'll talk to him before the game. He's a nice guy. I'm not sure he's terribly misunderstood, but I know him, and he just says what's on his mind. I wouldn't do that and I know Adam [Vinatieri] wouldn't do that.
"I'll talk to him a little bit about that. We're kickers, we're not quarterbacks, linebackers, or running backs, so I don't know how seriously anyone's going to take that. People do funny things when there's a microphone in front of them. They really say what's on their mind. I would never do that. I'll say what you guys have heard from 10 other guys. I would never say anything that would cause my teammates to say, `Nice going, Josh.' "
Vanderjagt, who set an NFL record by converting 42 consecutive field goal attempts, has hit 13 of 16 field goals in his career vs. New England, four out of five in Foxborough. His only miss was on Opening Day this season, when a 48-yard attempt with 24 seconds remaining went wide right in a 27-24 loss.
For his part, Belichick said only, "I don't really have any comment on what Vanderjagt did or didn't say. I'm sure he'll be out there a few times in the game to do his one special thing. We have a kicker. We'll put him out there and he will do his special thing and that is it.
"I don't think this game is going to be decided by some comments on Tuesday in the paper."
With 11 1/2, Willie McGinest is within three of tying the record for career postseason sacks. Only Bruce Smith (14 1/2) and Reggie White (12) have more. "It would be great," said McGinest, "but right now it's not about me. It would be good, though. Two Hall of Famers you're talking about there." McGinest has amassed his total in only 13 playoff games, while Smith did it in 20 and White in 19. "You have to step up and produce," McGinest said. "I try to approach every game the same, but the playoffs aren't the same because everything is on the line and you lose and you go home. There's not a lot of room for error." . . . The Patriots have asked their players on injured reserve, such as offensive lineman Adrian Klemm, to work out with the team during the playoffs. One player who won't is Ty Law. Asked if Law would be working with the defensive backs in preparation for the Colts receivers, Belichick said, "Ty won't be here this week." The coach didn't elaborate . . . The Gillette Stadium field has not been covered the last two days . . . There was no Richard Seymour sighting in the locker room yesterday. His status is up in the air for Sunday.