Here's a breakdown of the battles for roster spots and playing time by position on Special Teams.
Starter: Stephen Gostkowski
Outlook: Gostkowski managed to fare well over last season, but there were some points during the year where the team opted to go for a first down rather than attempt a long field goal. One of those calls came in the Super Bowl. The Patriots lost the game by three points, and if they had a kicker they believed to could get the job done on long kicks, it's possible that the team would have gone for it. Right now Gostkowski has no viable competition for the starting role. Heading into just his third season, the former fourth round Draft pick out of Memphis appears to be the only player considered for the job in 2008.
Outlook: Arguably one of the more unstable positions on the team currently, the starting job for punter is up for grabs in 2008. A noted in an article we published earlier (What's Seely Going To Do?) , the Patriots were not pleased with the performance of the punt team unit, and will consider adding competition at all the spots. Hanson filled in well at the last minute after being signed to replace Danny Baugher who was cut just prior to the start of the regular season in 2007. This year, the team brought in Scott Player, a punter who spent time with the Cleveland Browns last year and kicked against the Patriots during the regular season. Player could challenge for a veteran role if Hanson falters in camp.
Though Dragosavich is only in minicamp on a tryout basis, he has the physical talent to get the job done. Hanson, to his credit, was relatively consistent on special teams, with only a few minor flubs, none that seemed to do the team much harm. The coverage unit helped tremendously with Kelley Washington and Willie Andrews downing Hanson punts within the 10 on a number of occasions. Dragosavich could win the starting role if he shows a strong leg (44.5 avg at NDSU) and the ability to pin opponents within the 20.
Outlook: The Patriots appear to be content with Paxton resuming long snapper duties for 2008. The job has been his since joining the team as a free agent in 2000. Though the patriots have brought in other long snappers (Jon Condo was a recent one), none have truly challenged Paxton for the starting role. If Stupar can show he has what it takes to consistently snap on special teams, it could elevate the probability that he'll earn a roster spot at the crowded tight end position.
Update 5/5: Dragosavich signed a deal on Sunday to join the team