Patriots hopeful on Ryan Allen

Jim Davis/ Boston Globe
There might not be a new punter in town after all.

According to Mike Reiss at ESPN Boston, the Patriots are saying there's a chance that injured punter Ryan Allen will be able to play in Sunday's AFC Championship game. Allen suffered a sprained AC joint in his right shoulder Saturday against the Colts after a errant snap over his head eventually resulted in a fumble out the end zone for a safety.

Allen's status for Sunday will be determined by how well his shoulder responds to aggressive treatment this week. Stephen Gostkowski filled in admirably for Allen during the Colts game, but the Patriots will likely sign an emergency fill-in if Allen is unable to go.

That emergency fill in will not be former Patriot Zoltan Mesko. The most interesting man in the world wound up signing with the Bengals and punting for them in their Wild Card loss to San Diego. Although the Bengals are eliminated from the postseason, Mesko's contract technically doesn't expire until the end of the league year (after the Super Bowl), leaving him ineligible to sign with another team in that time span.

The Patriots did work out two punters, presumably to fill out their emergency contacts list, during the regular season. However, Robert Malone is currently off limits, having signed a futures contract with the Washington Redskins, leaving the Pats down to former Bills and Bengals punter Shawn Powell.

A closer look at Powell's 2013 season reveals why the Patriots are so hopeful that Allen is able to play. Powell punted the first five games of the season for Buffalo, but was cut after a disastrous game against the Cleveland Browns (punt returner Travis Benjamin returned 7 of his punts for 179 yards, including a 79 yard touchdown). He was then signed by Cincinnati after their punter, Kevin Huber, got his jaw broken, but was cut (and replaced by Mesko) after a 10 yard shank in their season finale against Baltimore.

Um, get well soon, Ryan. Really soon.