FOXBORO, Mass. — Who will kick field goals for the New England Patriots against the Kansas City Chiefs? Four days out, that remains a mystery.
The Patriots have yet to add a new kicker since releasing Kai Forbath on Monday. They practiced without one Wednesday morning, as long snapper Joe Cardona and punter Jake Bailey were the lone specialists present.
Re-signing Nick Folk remains the most likely avenue for New England. Folk was solid before undergoing an emergency appendectomy last week that led to his release, converting 7 of 9 field goals and 3 of 3 extra points in three games for the Patriots.
The Patriots, who currently have a full roster after claiming defensive tackle Albert Huggins off waivers, also could be looking to sign rookie kicker Chase McLaughlin, whom the San Francisco 49ers waived on Tuesday. McLaughlin went 7-for-8 on field goals and 8-for-8 on extra points during his brief stint as an injury replacement for Robbie Gould.
Interest in McLaughlin would explain the Patriots’ delay. The 23-year-old can’t officially sign anywhere until Wednesday afternoon, when he will either be awarded to the team with the highest waiver claim or, if unclaimed, hit free agency.
McLaughlin also has spent time with the Buffalo Bills, Minnesota Vikings and Los Angeles Chargers this year after going undrafted out of Illinois.
Another, far less likely option would be to have Bailey — a former high school kicker who already takes kickoffs for New England — also handle field goals and extra points. That would require the Patriots to introduce a new holder, however — likely either Jarrett Stidham or Cody Kessler — which would be a dangerous proposition this late in the year.
The Patriots already have utilized four kickers through 12 games this season — Stephen Gostkowski (four games), Mike Nugent (four), Folk (three) and Forbath (one) — after using just three from 1996 to 2018.
Two members of the Patriots’ 53-man roster were absent from practice Wednesday: center Ted Karras (knee) and defensive lineman Byron Cowart (head). Cornerback Jason McCourty practiced after missing the last two games with a groin injury.
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