Stephen Gostkowski still has fans in the New England Patriots locker room.
Patriots special teams captain Matthew Slater said Wednesday he still is close with the longtime Pats kicker, who is in his first season with the Tennessee Titans after 14 years in New England.
“Stephen remains a very good friend,” Slater said in a video conference. “We speak often. He’s someone who really showed me the ropes here. Him and Larry Izzo kind of showed me how to be a pro. So I’m very thankful for my time with Stephen. I played 12 years with him.
“I’ll always be rooting for him — whether it’s as a Tennessee Titan or just a dad coaching his sons. He’ll always have a fan in me.”
Gostkowski’s Titans tenure has been a rocky ride thus far.
In Week 1, the 36-year-old missed an extra point and three field goals against the Denver Broncos on “Monday Night Football” — then bounced back to nail a 25-yard game-winner in the final minute.
Gostkowski shanked another point-after this past Sunday but drilled a 51-yard field goal in the waning moments of the first half and a 49-yarder with less than two minutes remaining to give Tennessee a 33-30 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Slater has been rooting hard for his old friend.
“I support him in everything he does because that’s what he’s done for me,” Slater said. “He’s always been there. He’s always been a great friend. He’s always given me a lot of encouragement.
“So (it’s) exciting to see him have an opportunity to play again, to be healthy, and he’s with obviously a great organization, and there’s a lot of familiarity with him and Mike (Vrabel). So I’ll be pulling for Stephen all year long.”
The Patriots have yet to find a truly reliable replacement for Gostkowski, who spent most of last season on injured reserve before being released. Fifth-round draft pick Justin Rohrwasser failed to make the 53-man roster out of training camp, and veteran Nick Folk has converted just one of his first three field-goal attempts, missing from 45 yards in Week 1 and from 51 in Week 2.
Head coach Bill Belichick confirmed Tuesday that Folk will be New England’s kicker moving forward despite his inauspicious start.