Just one day after being promoted to the active roster, Michael Palardy made his New England Patriots debut. It was a busy one for the veteran punter: he was called upon to kick the ball away seven times on Sunday against the New York Jets, and also served as holder.
Palardy, of course, was called upon to replace an ailing Jake Bailey; the Patriots’ usual punter was sent to injured reserve with a back injury and will miss at least four games. During Bailey’s absence, Palardy will take over the role and he passed his first test — despite it being a rather difficult one.
Not only was field position key in the Patriots’ defensive battle against their division rivals, the conditions at Gillette Stadium also were quite challenging. Still, Palardy fared well as Bill Belichick pointed out on Monday.
“I thought Michael handled things well, punting and holding,” the Patriots’ head coach said on a media conference call. “Experienced guy, he’s been in these situations before. We had a couple of situational backed up punts, we had some situational punts, I thought he handled things pretty well. We had pretty good coverage out of our punt team unit, and he gave us some good directional punts. Close on the plus-50 punt.
“Not the easiest day to kick in for punters or place kickers or snappers for that matter. ButI thought he stepped in and did a solid job for us.”
Palardy first arrived in New England on November 1, joining the team’s practice squad to offer veteran depth behind a struggling Bailey. After three weeks on the developmental roster, the 30-year-old got his chance versus New York.
He made the most of it.
Palardy posted a punting average of 45.3 yards with a net gain of 41.1. When looking solely at those categories, the game was the second best of the season for a Patriots punter behind Bailey’s 50.5/42.5 performance versus the Detroit Lions in Week 5.
“It was really tough, the conditions were tough,” said special teams captain Matthew Slater. “I really think Michael Palardy did a tremendous job in handling the conditions in his first game with us.”
In a game decided by special teams — Marcus Jones’ 84-yard punt return touchdown in the final seconds secured a 10-3 New England win — it was easy to overlook Palardy’s contributions. However, his team did not forget about him and the role he played in the Patriots’ sixth win of the season was a valuable one.
It was a good debut.