FOXBORO, Mass. — Bill Belichick got his NFL start as a special teams coach, and he’s never lost his affinity for that phase of the game.
The New England Patriots coach is known for giving tremendously detailed responses to questions about the kicking game, and he’s always shown a fondness for punters, from the legendary Ray Guy to Johnny “The Weapon” Hekker.
Another favorite of Belichick’s is Thomas Morstead, who is in his ninth season as the New Orleans Saints’ punter. With the Patriots set to visit the Saints on Sunday, Belichick gave a glowing and unprompted review of Morstead’s talents during his Wednesday morning news conference.
“Morstead’s been as good a punter as this league has ever seen,” Belichick said. “Tremendous, tremendous player. Accurate, long, good plus-50. He does everything well.”
That wasn’t the first time Belichick had praised Morstead, either. After the Patriots held joint practices with the Saints last summer, he somehow found a way to weave in a Morstead mention while answering a question about Howie Long.
“Watching Morstead last week,” Belichick said, “you’re not going to see it any better than that if you put the ball in the JUGS machine. It’s a clinic.”
Belichick was similarly complimentary last season of Hekker, the Los Angeles Rams punter who has earned first-team All-Pro honors in three of the last four seasons.
“He’s dangerous,” Belichick said. “He’s like a quarterback. He can throw, he can run. You’ve got to defend him like you defend one of those guys. …
“This guy is a weapon. I mean, he’s not (just) a good player. He’s a weapon.”
Thumbnail photo via Chuck Cook/USA TODAY Sports Images