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Jake Bailey blames Patriots' squatting program for punting woes in 2022

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BOSTON -- The drastic demise of Jake Bailey left many spectators mystified, as the now-former Patriots punter went from an All-Pro in 2020 to the league's worst punter in 2022.

Now a member of the Miami Dolphins following his release from the Patriots earlier this month, Bailey has offered one explanation for his steep decline: The Patriots had him squatting too much.

"A lot of it had to do with squatting a ton," Bailey said Wednesday while meeting the Miami media via Zoom. "I did not grow up squatting, loading my back with back squats. I didn't do it at all in college, and then I really didn't do it my first three years in the league. And I kind of tried to start something new, trying to be more a part of the program. And it just really backfired the whole season I was doing it. It really made my accuracy struggle, and it just was kind of a sad, sad thing to have happen. I haven't squatted since really Week 15 or 16 and I feel pretty good."  

Bailey said the back pain that came as a result of the squatting began before the season and lasted all year.

"I'm not one to really make excuses about my numbers. Like, any time you walk out onto that field, you're expected to be the best version of yourself and perform up to the NFL standards. I didn't feel myself the whole year, though," Bailey said. "I was squatting a lot, and I was getting treatment on my back since Week 1, and before."

Bailey had a net average of 45.6 yards per punt in 2020, his second year in the league. That number dropped to 39.6 yards in 2021 and tumbled down to 35.3 in 2022. Interestingly, his kickoff average didn't dip from 2020 to 2022, but as Bailey noted, it was the accuracy where he believes the back pain affected his game.

Bailey, 25, was placed on the suspended list for the Patriots' final regular-season game, and he later filed a grievance. Bailey revealed Wednesday that the grievance is now over, though he offered few details.

"The details of it are kind of between me and the Patriots. The grievance is done, but everything surrounding it is in the past," Bailey said. "I'm totally on a new team now, and just looking forward to seeing how I can contribute to them."

Bailey was also asked how it felt to be placed on that suspended list in the first place.

"Uh, you know, there's a lot to unpack, and a lot of it is between them and me, partly," Bailey said. "I've talked to Coach [Bill] Belichick about this and how we want to talk about all this stuff, and obviously you don't want to end up on a list like that ever. And confusion was a lot of it. And I think we're just past it now at this point. It was something that happened, and it was something that was unfortunate for both sides. And now I think both sides are in a better situation."

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