FOXBORO, Mass. — From a New England Patriots perspective, the most interesting player on the Buffalo Bills’ 53-man roster might punter Corey Bojorquez.
Bojorquez, one of several ex-Patriots currently suiting up for Buffalo, had an especially strange summer in Foxboro.
After going undrafted out of New Mexico, Bojorquez successfully parlayed a rookie tryout into a spot on the 90-man roster and was present at every training camp practice, impressing observers with his hang time. But once the preseason games began, he remained glued to the sideline.
Bojorquez dressed for all four exhibition contests but never saw the field, with incumbent Ryan Allen handling all 22 Patriots punts. Allen easily won the job, and Bojorquez was waived during final cuts.
Rostering a healthy player for an entire summer without ever playing him is highly unusual. Some speculated the Patriots might have been trying to hide the strong-legged 22-year-old from other teams with the hopes of sneaking him onto their practice squad, where he would have more time to develop his punting precision.
They never had the chance, though. Buffalo claimed Bojorquez off waivers and, despite never having seen him punt in an NFL game, made him their Week 1 starter, ditching veteran Colton Schmidt to roll with the unproven rookie.
Bills coach Sean McDermott, whose team hosts the Patriots on Monday night at New Era Field, explained the decision Thursday in a conference call with New England reporters.
“Our guys did their research and felt like it was an opportunity for us to get a young player that they had scouted in college,” McDermott said. “We had a need, and Corey was there.”
It wasn’t strange, though, seeing Patriots coach Bill Belichick insist on using only one of his punters throughout the preseason?
“That happens from time to time,” McDermott replied. “You don’t always know exactly what’s going on when you’re outside looking in, but from time to time, you see that happen in the preseason.”
Asked whether the Patriots hoped to keep Bojorquez around on the practice squad, Belichick stated only the obvious.
“Yeah, well, we didn’t really have that option,” the Patriots coach said in his Wednesday morning news conference. “He was claimed.”
Bojorquez certainly has been busy since joining the Bills, who have fielded the NFL’s worst offense through seven games. His 40 punts are third-most in the league behind Cleveland’s Britton Colquitt (54) and Arizona’s Andy Lee (42), and he’s deposited exactly half of those inside the opposition’s 20-line.
“(He has) a big leg,” Belichick said. “He does a good job in the plus-50.”
Bojorquez ranks 14th in both average yards per punt and net punting average this season.
“He continues to grow and improve,” McDermott said. “You see that with young players. He’s dedicated to the growth mindset, which is what we subscribe to.”
Thumbnail photo via Jeremy Brevard/USA TODAY Sports Images