FOXBORO, Mass. — Players face a high degree of uncertainty when they've been seriously injured for the first time in their careers, and Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski is finally overcoming that fear.
He tore the quadriceps in his right leg last season and is in the latter stages of his recovery period. Since he makes a living off of his right leg, he said it took some time to trust it as he progressed through rehabilitation.
"It's been like a slow progression," said Gostkowski, who was at Gillette Stadium for the Patriots' Community MVP charity event. "It would be like a pitcher throwing, playing toss, then playing long toss, then he's throwing off a mound, so it's been a progression over the past couple months, to little baby steps, and now the fear of reinjuring, and the fear of hurting myself and it hurting while I do it is completely out the window. It's just encouraging to feel better each week, and as long as I don't overdo it. I just have to still be smart about it because I still have got a long time until camp. I feel happy with where I'm at."
Gostkowski, who was a pitcher at Memphis, understood that analogy as well as anyone. By reading through the rest of his quote, he made it sound like he is targeting the presumed start of training camp to get back on the field. If camp begins on schedule, it should start in time for the last weekend of July.
Gostkowski, the seventh most accurate field-goal kicker in NFL history, said he's ready to get back on the field and prove himself again. That's an encouraging sign from someone who signed a four-year, $14 million extension in 2010.
He has been working out at Memphis with Ravens long snapper Morgan Cox, who is recovering from a torn ACL, and Gostkowski said it's been helpful to work with someone who has pushed him through the process.
The lockout and the injury have also caused Gostkowski to change his typical offseason plans, whereas he usually spends the majority of his offseasons working out at Gillette Stadium.
"I've just been rehabbing and kicking and doing a bunch of stuff," Gostkowski said. "Each week, [the quad gets] better and better and better and better. It's very encouraging. I feel very happy with where I'm at right now. I'm just going to work hard to be ready by camp. It's good. It's encouraging. I've managed to stay positive throughout the whole process. I've never been hurt in any sport before where I've ever had to miss time — something so serious as my kicking leg, and I can't kick with another leg. It was worrisome at first, but I feel great and doing well."