FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Rookie long snapper Jake Ingram received the news via text message from kicker Stephen Gostkowski on Sunday night: Veteran long snapper Nathan Hodel would be cut, and Ingram had won the job, claiming a victory in one of the most tightly-contested position battles in training camp.
“I just realize the task at hand, and I know I have a lot of work to do,” Ingram said. “That’s all I can really think about, coming in here ready to go to work and have a positive attitude.”
Ingram hasn’t had a chance to talk to Hodel since he was waived Monday, but the rookie planned to reach out to his mentor in the very near future. Though the two only spent a few months together, they grew close, and Hodel took it upon himself to teach Ingram the intricacies of how to succeed as a professional, even if it meant costing him a job.
“He definitely did help me,” said Ingram, who will get his long hair braided Wednesday as part of the Patriots’ rookie “haircut” week. “He was never a guy who was trying to treat me like a rookie. He seemed like he was more trying to help me out, trying to help me get better. And also, we were pushing each other and hopefully making each other better. It was awesome having him around, and I wish the best of luck to him and his family.”
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said he believes Hodel, the Arizona Cardinals’ long snapper from 2001-08, will quickly land with another NFL team. Rather than letting the competition drag out for another week, Belichick made the decision, in part, to give Hodel a longer opportunity to find a new home.
Ingram replaces Lonie Paxton, who departed for Denver after long snapping for the Patriots from 2000-08, and Ingram more than understood Paxton’s impact in New England.
“He had a long, successful career here,” Ingram said. “I can only hope to be half as successful as he is.”