Patriots Sign Kicker Shayne Graham, in Part Because of Heinz Field Experience

There's a first time for everything, even for Patriots head coach Bill Belichick.

The Patriots signed kicker Shayne Graham on Tuesday, according to the Boston Herald, to fill in for Stephen Gostkowski, who injured his right quadriceps Sunday in Cleveland. It's the first time during Belichick's tenure in New England that he has added a second kicker in the middle of the season.

The Graham signing makes sense for one major reason. Having spent seven seasons with the Bengals, Graham is used to kicking in Pittsburgh's Heinz Field, which is a notoriously difficult place for kickers.

Graham has converted nine of 11 field-goal attempts in six games at Heinz Field, and he has made all 12 of his extra points. His 81.8 percent field-goal conversion rate is ranked fifth out of the six visiting kickers who have attempted at least six field goals at Heinz Field, which was built in 2001.

Two of the four kickers who have better conversion rates than Graham — Oakland's Sebastian Janikowski (7-for-8, 87.5 percent) and Indianapolis' Adam Vinatieri (6-for-7, 85.7 percent) — were unavailable on the free-agent market. The other two — John Carney (5-for-6, 83.3 percent) and Matt Stover (10-for-12, 83.3 percent) — were 46 years old and 42 years old, respectively.

That left the Patriots with Graham, who has made 196 of 230 field goals (85.2 percent) in his career, as the Patriots' stopgap until Gostkowski's right leg heals up.

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