Landeta punts conventional wisdom


FOXBORO -- Sean Landeta doesnít have the qualities you look for in a football player, but there are few who do their jobs better than the Ramsí 42-year-old punter.

Landeta, who is in his 20th season as a pro, leads the NFC in punting, averaging 43.7 yards per kick. Patriots head coach Bill Belichick worked with Landeta while the two were with the New York Giants in the 1980s, and heís surprised the veteran punter has lasted this long.

"If you had told me in í85 that Sean would be punting 20 years later, I would have never thought that," he said. "I know punters have longer careers, especially the good ones, but Sean has really had a remarkable career. He has proved to everybody that he can just keep punting the ball and thatís literally all he does. Thatís all he does. He will never hold. He is never going to kick off. He will never do anything but punt, but he can punt."

Landeta, who is one of only two active NFL players (Doug Flutie the other) to have played in the USFL, has also had a number of his punts returned for touchdowns, which means heís not a great tackler. That doesnít surprise Belichick.

"Sean is not a good athlete," he said. "When you look at him, you are just not in awe. He is kind of compact. His hands are OK. I donít think they are really anything special. Heís not really quick getting the ball off, but it is OK. Heís not a really good directional kicker, but it is OK.

"He is not bad at anything and he is average to above average in pretty much everything. He is a good situational punter. He is accurate and he can kick for distance and he can get the ball up there. To do it at his age, itís just remarkable. Sean is as pure of a punter as I have ever been around. You talk about a specialist. He defines the word. He really does."

Landeta would be the perfect fit on one of Belichickís future coaching staffs, but that might not interest him -- at least not right now, since itís obvious he can still play.

"I donít think that is really his thing," Belichick said. "He is not really a coach. He is a player. He has the mentality of a player and the moxie of a player and all those things you talk about as a player. The way he is playing, why couldnít he keep playing? Heís leading the league. Itís just remarkable."

On the mend

There were no changes to New Englandís injury report on Friday, but Belichick indicated that David Givensí knee injury wonít cause him to miss an extended period of time. He wasnít sure when Givens hurt himself, though it mightíve been on his second touchdown catch last weekend.

"I think Givens will be all right," Belichick said. "I donít know. I donít go around and ask every player, ĎWhat happened on this play? What happened on that play?í

"We play the game and try to play through whatever the situations are when the game is over. Then we do what we can to try and help them recover and get ready for next week, so I donít get too concerned with what play something happened or didnít happen on. I donít know. I honestly donít know."

Giving it all heís got

Wide receiver Troy Brown might get some playing time on defense this weekend since Ty Law and Tyrone Poole are injured. Belichick started using Brown as a situational defensive back during training camp to build depth.

Brown has yet to play defense during the regular season, but when Law got hurt last weekend against Pittsburgh, Belichick said the thought crossed his mind.

"Troy is a good team player, an all-around guy," Belichick said. "He has done whatever we asked him to. He has always done that. He has always been one of the most cooperative and unselfish players I have coached.So, what we have asked him to do, he has done, without getting into his specific responsibilities. I'm sure if we went in there and asked him to play tackle, he would go in there and play it the best he could."

A roof over their heads

The Patriots spent the week practicing inside their field house behind Gillette Stadium, partly because it was windy and partly because theyíll be playing indoors this weekend in St. Louis at the Edward Jones Dome. "(The wind) was blowing pretty good and I think that affects the timing of the passing game and kicking game, especially when it is not going to affect it on Sunday," Belichick said. "We worked in there also to try to take advantage of the noise situation. It can get a little bit louder in there." ... The Rams are expecting defensive tackle Jimmy Kennedy to make his 2004 debut Sunday. He hasnít played this season due to a foot injury. Linebacker Brandon Chillar and defensive tackle Tyoka Jackson are also expected to play. Wide receiver Dane Looker was the only Ram to miss a portion of practice Friday. ... The game matches cousins Trev Faulk, a Rams linebacker, and Kevin Faulk, who will start for the Pats if Corey Dillon does not play.