Punter Ryan Allen played extremely well in his rookie season. (USA TODAY Images)
(This is the fifth in a series of individual player spotlights over the next few weeks leading up to training camp. We’ll have several each day, so check back frequently as we go down the roster. This edition focuses on Patriots punter Ryan Allen:)
Ryan Allen proved that punters are certainly people too in 2013, and a lot of his value got lost thanks to the fact he was incredibly consistent over the course of his rookie season.
Allen definitely didn’t play like a rookie in his first year. He finished among the best in the league for punters in 2013 and was a key player in changing field position in quite a few games when New England’s offense was struggling. Looking back at how last season ultimately went down, Allen was quietly an unsung hero after unseating incumbent Zoltan Mesko during the preseason. Mesko was a popular player and it was hard to see him go, but the luxury of hindsight ended up being proof that there’s a method to Bill Belichick’s madness, and the undrafted free agent out of Louisiana Tech ended up being one of the best decisions made last season.
Best game of 2013:
Ryan’s best game came in Week two against the New York Jets when he finished with 11 punts for 514 yards including four downed inside the twenty yard line along with two touchbacks. His yardage total tied a franchise record, and that performance came on a night that the Patriots couldn’t get much going offensively after escaping with a 13-10 Thursday night win over the Jets.
One of his biggest kicks of the season actually came in their incredible come from behind win over Denver in Week 12, with Allen hitting a nice high kick in overtime on a windy night at Gillette Stadium that landed in just the right way and hit one of the Broncos’ players, which helped set up a 31-yard game-winning field goal by Stephen Gostkowski.
Notable Stat of 2013:
Allen finished 2013 in the top 10 for punts inside the 20 yard line with 29 and also lead the league with 12 touchbacks. He also had just 29 punts returned against him last season, the 11th lowest total among punters with more than 30 kicks.
What to Watch For in 2014:
Allen had a terrific start to his NFL career, and he’s a player who New England will be relying on to come out and have a repeat season. There were quite a few occasions where a good kick by Ryan prevented a game-changing scoring opportunity for opponents last season, and he’s a significant reason why the Patriots finished the way they did in 2013. He set the bar pretty high for himself this season, and hopefully he’ll be able to deliver.