Punter Claims Pats' Strength Program Played a Role in His Struggles

Jake Bailey appears to call out Pats' strength staff after rough 2022 originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Jake Bailey's tenure with the New England Patriots went downhill in a hurry.

The talented punter out of Stanford excelled as a rookie in 2019 and earned First-Team All-Pro honors in 2020. Two years later, he had the NFL's worst net yards per punt average through nine games before being placed on injured reserve on Nov. 19, 2022.

The Patriots moved Bailey to the reserve/suspended list on Dec. 31, prompting Bailey and his agent to file a grievance over what they viewed as an "unknown suspension." The team released Bailey on March 10, and the 25-year-old signed with the AFC East rival Miami Dolphins last Friday.

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So, where did things go wrong for Bailey in New England? The fifth-year punter appeared to put the blame on the Patriots' strength and conditioning program for emphasizing squats in his workouts.

"A lot of it had to do with squatting a ton," Bailey told reporters in Miami on Wednesday, via Sports Illustrated's Omar Kelly. "I didn't grow up loading my back with back squats. ... I tried to start something new and be part of the program and it backfired the whole season."

Bailey was limited in several Patriots practices due to a back injury before going on IR and suggested Wednesday that squatting exacerbated his back ailment, adding that he "didn't feel like myself the whole year."

Bailey says he's feeling much better now that he's ditched the squats, however.

"Haven't squatted since Week 15 and feel pretty good," Bailey said.

It's unclear exactly how much Bailey's workouts factored into his injury and poor performance last season, or how much dialog there was between the punter and the strength staff regarding how the workouts were impacting him. What is clear is that the two sides were ready to part ways by the end of the 2022 campaign.

Bailey said his grievance with the Patriots has been resolved, and that he'll view New England as just another opponent in 2023. As for the Patriots, they're in the market for a new punter, as last year's midseason Bailey replacement, Michael Palardy, is a free agent.

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