The names ranged from quarterback Brian Hoyer and running back Brandon Bolden to cornerback J.C. Jackson and wide receiver Jakobi Meyers.
An undrafted rookie had made the New England Patriots’ initial 53-man roster for 17 consecutive years.
Kicker Quinn Nordin made it 18 as the NFL deadline passed last week.
The Michigan product, who was exploring LinkedIn for jobs before agreeing to terms nearly a week into May, did so without a signing bonus. He did so after a preseason that displayed both a strong right leg and a strong opportunity to work through what flew wide of the uprights.
“I mean, I just try to stay in the present, focus on the job at hand,” Nordin said during his press conference Thursday at Gillette Stadium. “I think preseason was just awesome. The amount of reps I was able to get. I didn’t even know if I was going to get any reps in the preseason, so I think that was a really good experience, even getting kickoffs. I’m just going to try to use what I learned from that experience and take it to the first game.”
Nordin made 6-of-8 field goals and 4-of-7 extra points over the course of August. Along the way came longs of 48 and 50 yards that were counteracted by a trio of misses from close distance against the Philadelphia Eagles. But the 23-year-old specialist rebounded versus the New York Giants. The finale at MetLife Stadium saw Nordin make all but a might-as-well attempt from 54 yards in the closing seconds.
From there, the seconds ticked down slowly as New England’s roster reduced from 80 to 53. For Nordin, they ticked down on the phone talking to former Wolverines teammate Carlo Kemp, an undrafted defensive lineman in training camp with the Green Bay Packers.
“We were playing Monopoly online on our phones with each other,” Nordin recalled. “I just tried to stay on the phone. I talked with people, talked with Carlo for probably three hours and then went to sleep. I woke up, came to the building and I was kind of like walking on eggshells. No one told me I made the team. No one told me I didn’t make the team. So, just kind of still here. I’m going to be here until they ask me to leave.”
Nordin wasn’t asked to by 4 p.m. ET Tuesday.
He would instead outlast 36-year-old incumbent Nick Folk. The 2007 Pro Bowler had twice been named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week and twice kicked game-winners from 50-plus yards with the Patriots last campaign. Folk finished with a career-best conversion rate of 92.9% on field goals, making 26 in a row to go with 30-of-33 of his extra points.
The released Folk has since been retained on the practice squad after signing a one-year deal featuring $1.225 million guaranteed in March. Valuable insurance, he can be elevated to the active roster Nordin resides on at any time.
But the lone member of New England’s 2021 undrafted class finds himself on it as the calendar turns to September. And in Nordin’s search for NFL consistency, he finds the mechanics of kicking relatable to two sports other than the consensus of golf.
“Cornhole and NASCAR are two things I compare kicking to,” Nordin told reporters. “Throwing it and the mechanics of kicking, being smooth, the repeatable motion at a very small target. And then mentally, when you’re driving around a NASCAR track, you have to stay focused the whole time. There’s a saying like, if you put a robot in a car it would be able to do the same thing around a track a million times in a row. But when you put a person in a car, sometimes it can’t — one lap’s faster, one lap’s slower.”
Nordin will try to keep the motion repeatable and the lap times close as New England’s undrafted streak from 2004 continues into 2021.
The regular season kicks off next Sunday in Foxborough at 4:25 p.m. ET versus the Miami Dolphins.