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Veteran kicker Matthew Wright joins Patriots’ practice squad

New England is adding some depth behind rookie Chad Ryland.

Las Vegas Raiders v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

The New England Patriots are adding some depth to their place kicker position. Veteran Matthew Wright, who was in town for a tryout on Wednesday, will be signed to the team’s practice squad to provide depth behind rookie Chad Ryland.

With the Patriots’ practice squad currently at a full 16 following the additions of quarterback Will Grier and wide receiver Matthew Sexton, another move will be necessary.

Wright, 27, spent his college career at UCF where he made 77.4 percent of his field goals and 98.5 percent of his extra points. Despite being one of the most prolific kickers in school history, and having experience on kickoffs and even in the punting game, he did not hear his name called in the 2019 NFL Draft.

Instead, wright joined the Pittsburgh Steelers as an undrafted rookie free agent. Over the next five years, he bounced around the league (and even had a short stint in the XFL) and is now on his eighth team. Along the way accumulated 23 in-game appearances that saw him make go 40-of-46. on field goals (87.0%) and 35-of-37 on point-after tries (94.6%).

So far in 2023, he spent time with the Carolina Panthers, San Francisco 49ers, and Atlanta Falcons without seeing any game action outside of preseason (when he made all four of his kicks as a Panther). He was released off the Falcons’ practice squad earlier this week.

The Patriots recently brought in several kickers for tryouts. The timing of those sessions seemed odd: they took place just a few days after Chad Ryland missed a 35-yard field goal in the final seconds of a 10-7 loss to the New York Giants.

“We worked some guys out. We usually do that anyway, this time of year,” said head coach Bill Belichick on Wednesday. “Look, the guys that are here need to be ready to go. That’s what everybody’s job is.”

Ryland joined the Patriots as a fourth-round draft pick earlier this year, earning the job over incumbent veteran Nick Folk. However, the rookie has had some issues beyond that missed kick versus the Giants: in total, he has made just 12 of his 18 field goal attempts for a success rate of 66.7 percent.

The Patriots will host the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday. Kickoff at Gillette Stadium is scheduled for 1 p.m. ET.