Gostkowski now kicking for former teammate in Tennessee
Playing for a team other than the New England Patriots for the first time since entering the NFL in 2006 definitely feels a bit odd for kicker Stephen Gostkowski.
Coming off season-ending hip surgery, he weighed whether he wanted to keep playing and head to another team. The chance to play for former teammate Mike Vrabel in Tennessee was an opportunity he just couldn’t pass up.
“It feels weird, but it also feels ... it’s kind of a cool feeling, like a fresh start, start over,” Gostkowski said.
“I feel like a rookie again. I got to meet everybody. I got to find out where I fit in on this team. I got to prove myself to this team. Whatever I’ve done or haven’t done in the past really doesn’t mean anything for this team. Maybe some of the young guys say, ‘I used to play with you on Madden.’ But other than that, I’m excited to go out there and have to prove myself to these guys and prove that I’m worthy to be a Titans.”
Vrabel was one of the veterans who was really tough on Gostkowski as a rookie in New England, where they were teammates for three seasons. Gostkowski won three Super Bowls with the Patriots and has made 87.4% of his kicks (374 of 428) in his career. His field goal percentage ranks fifth in NFL history.
But Gostkowski was put on injured reserve last October and had hip surgery before being released by the Patriots in late March. Gostkowski, who turned 36 in January, moved with his family to Tennessee this summer, buying a house near Franklin, Tennessee. Gostkowski played in college at Memphis, and his wife is a native of Memphis.
He kept kicking and waiting to see if anyone would call. The Titans did and liked his workout enough to make him their seventh kicker since the start of last season. They also kept undrafted rookie Tucker McCann on the practice squad, protected in case they need him after Tennessee converted a league-worst 8 of 18 field goals (44.4%) last season.
“This isn’t a lifetime achievement award,” Vrabel said of the decision to sign Gostkowski.
Asked about his leg strength, Gostkowski sounds ready to show what he can do in a new uniform.
“I feel like I’ve gotten my strength back, so I guess you’ll just have to wait to see how far I kick the kickoffs in Denver,” Gostkowski said of the Titans’ opening opponent Monday night.