Getting his kicks
Punter Sauerbrun happy, contributing
Punter Todd Sauerbrun was one of the unsung contributors in the Patriots' victory over the Chargers, helping shift field position with some booming kicks.
While Sauerbrun felt he was solid, averaging 44.1 yards (39.3 net) on seven punts, he believes his best is yet to come.
"I'm still not where I need to be," he said after the game. "The way I feel is that every ball should be knocked out of the stadium. That's where I want to be."
Sauerbrun signed with the Patriots Dec. 22 and has punted in the last four games. Early on, he said it would take time to find his groove.
"I'm still a little stiff, my whole body," he said. "That takes time to work all that rust out. Unfortunately, the time I'll probably be peaking will be once there are no more games to be played. But it's night and day from when I first got here."
A key play in Sunday's victory came in the third quarter, when Sauerbrun lofted a 51-yard punt in the direction of Chargers returner Eric Parker. He knew it was going to be a tough one to handle, and Parker ended up muffing it, with the Patriots recovering.
"It was the way the ball was rotating, and I remember thinking, 'Good luck with that one,' " he said. "It was just weird-looking. I had never hit one in practice like that before."
Sauerbrun is looking forward to kicking in the RCA Dome, where he knows it will be "70 and sunny."
"The cold is brutal, and I think it affects the kickers the worst, especially with all these new K balls we have to use," he said. "Just trying to handle them can be brutal."
A 12-year veteran, Sauerbrun wondered how he would fit in the Patriots' locker room, especially joining a playoff team so late in the season. He's pleased with how things have unfolded.
"I feel like I fit right in; the guys here are a special group, I really believe that," he said. "It almost feels like I've been here all year, which I think is a reflection of the guys around you. There are no cliques anywhere, it's nothing like 'we don't talk to the kicker.' Everybody is cool with everybody."
Sauerbrun also has been impressed with rookie placekicker Stephen Gostkowski.
"I've been around great kickers in my day, and I promise you he's going to be one of them; he's just not one of them because he hasn't been around long enough," said Sauerbrun. "He kicks a hell of a ball. He's got the leg and a great head on his shoulders. Most of all, he has the mind for a kicker."
Mike Reiss can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.