FOXBOROUGH — With two days until kickoff against the Kansas City Chiefs, the Patriots still don’t have a kicker.
The Patriots cut kicker Kai Forbath on Monday. The assumption was they would simply re-sign Nick Folk, who had an appendectomy last week. Instead, the Patriots attempted to claim Chase McLaughlin off waivers.
That plan was foiled by the Indianapolis Colts, who were ahead of New England in the waiver order and were able to add McLaughlin, 23, who was cut by the 49ers Wednesday. The Colts still have the struggling Adam Vinatieri, who appeared on the team’s injury report with a knee issue.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick didn’t meet with reporters Thursday, but at the start of the week he said he hoped to have the situation resolved in a matter of days.
“We have a few days to work that out,” Belichick said Monday of the kicking situation. “So, we’ll look at our options and try to do what we feel like is best for the team based on what our options are. So, I don’t know exactly how that’s going to go, but we’ll see.”
Belichick couldn’t have foreseen the Colts throwing a monkey wrench in those plans.
The Patriots are once again in a pinch, looking for a quick fix at kicker for the fourth time this season.
Speed to burn
The Chiefs have the kind of speed that can intimidate some secondaries.
Between Tyreek Hill and Mecole Hardman, the Chiefs have two receivers that burn by defensive backs with 4.2 speed.
Patriots safety Duron Harmon had to take a deep breath and a long pause before he could come up with someone in the Patriots locker room that could match that kind of speed.
“We got J. Jones, probably?” he said, looking at cornerback Jonathan Jones. “I think he ran a 4.2. I don’t know. We’ve got a couple 4.3s here and there.”
The Patriots don’t have to win a footrace Sunday, just a football game with playoff picture implications. But success will hinge on keeping the Chiefs’ speed in check.
“We’re going to be all right,” Harmon said. “We’ve got a good plan of what we need to do to try to neutralize their speed. Obviously, it’s a big asset for them and they’ve relied on it heavily but we’ll do a good job of just trying to neutralize it and play the game on our terms.”
In their first meeting since last year’s AFC Championship game, the teams will match strength vs. strength. The Chiefs have the league’s third-best passing attack. The Patriots have the second-best pass defense.
“Every game is fun, but it’s a passing game,” Harmon said. “We know they’re a passing offense, they thrive off their matchups from receivers to the tight ends to the quarterback being able to make plays not only with his arm but with his feet. So we know it’s going to be a game where the secondary’s going to be relied on heavily, but we’re up for the challenge. They’re a good offense, we’re a good defense. We’ve got good skill players, we’ve got good secondary players, so we’re looking forward to it.”
Belichick has made it clear that containing tight end Travis Kelce will be the defense’s top priority. But weapons such as Hill, Hardman, and Sammy Watkins will create matchup problems all over the field.
“It’s an explosive offense that scores a lot of points,” Harmon said. “So anything we can do to slow them down, we’re going to look for.”
Brady on injury report
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was limited in Thursday’s practice because of a toe issue. Brady, who’s also dealt with an elbow issue this season, went through practice in full Wednesday. Brady hasn’t missed a game because of injury since 2008 . . . Defensive lineman Byron Cowart (head) and offensive lineman Ted Karras (knee) did not practice. Linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley (knee), offensive lineman Marcus Cannon (illness), safety Patrick Chung (heel), wide receiver Julian Edelman (shoulder), quarterback Cody Kessler (illness), cornerback Jason McCourty (groin), and wide receiver Mohamed Sanu (ankle) were all limited . . . Belichick became the third coach in NFL history to win 300 games when the Patriots beat the Browns in October, and the milestone will be honored by Hall of Fame. The game ball from the victory will be added to the Hall’s collection of artifacts in Canton, Ohio.
Julian Benbow can be reached at email@example.com.