The New England Patriots have unfortunately fumbled on a punt return in three of their four past games. It's an ugly turn for the third unit that head coach Bill Belichick takes a lot of pride in dominating.
Messing up on special teams is an easy way to the dog house. Wide receiver Chris Harper fumbled a punt against the Broncos and was sent back down to the practice squad. Defensive end Geneo Grissom missed a block that led to the Eagles blocking a Ryan Allen punt and returning it for a touchdown. Grissom was a healthy scratch the next week.
So when Patriots wide receiver Danny Amendola fumbled a punt against the TItans, everyone expected the worst (in addition to the receiver reinjuring his knee). Belichick disagrees.
"Well, two of the plays were muffs where the ball wasn't caught cleanly," Belichick answered when asked about all of the special teams fumbles. "The one last week we had possession of the ball. That could happen on any play. It wasn't the catching of the punt. It was running with the ball, so I'd say that would go in a little different category.
"In the end we've got to handle the ball cleanly on the exchange and get possession of the ball. That's the first job of the punt return or kickoff return team when you put them on the field is to gain possession of the ball. That's number one; we've got to do that."
Amendola probably won't be available against the Jets so wide receiver Keshawn Martin, himself guilty of fumbling against the Texans, will probably be asked to return the kicks. It will be a great time to redeem himself- or find himself in the dog house for the rest of the year.