Patriots release kicker Nick Folk to sign Kai Forbath

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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Now on to their fourth kicker of the season after signing veteran Kai Forbath, the New England Patriots continue to navigate an unsettled situation.

"We'll do introductions so we can get to know everybody," coach Bill Belichick joked on Friday morning.

Forbath replaces veteran Nick Folk, who underwent an appendectomy this week and was officially released by the club Friday. Folk could return to the Patriots later in the season, but for now, Belichick said the team's focus is on getting Forbath ready for Sunday's road game against the Houston Texans (8:20 p.m. ET, NBC).

The club had worked out Forbath in early October after Stephen Gostkowski was placed on season-ending injured reserve due to a hip injury.

Forbath, 32, was passed over in favor of veteran Mike Nugent at that time. Nugent kicked in four games for the Patriots before he was replaced by Folk for the past three games.

Belichick acknowledged it has been a challenging situation for the Patriots, "but other teams in the league have gone through it, and we've gone through it at other positions. It's not what you want. It's not ideal. But we'll keep going."

Folk was 7-of-9 on field goal attempts and 3-of-3 on extra points. His two missed field goals (from 48 and 46 yards) came in Sunday's win over the Dallas Cowboys in rainy, windy conditions, and overall, Belichick described Folk's contributions as "good," adding that the chemistry between him, holder Jake Bailey and snapper Joe Cardona was growing.

"We were making progress in terms of the timing and the overall operation," he said, praising Cardona's leadership in his fifth NFL season and Bailey's maturity as a rookie.

Belichick noted that the Patriots have been fortunate to have stability at kicker in his 20-year tenure as coach, first with Adam Vinatieri, then Gostkowski. In 2010, Gostkowski was injured halfway through the season and replaced by veteran Shayne Graham, which was the only other time the club has had to make an in-season change.

Folk still has a locker set up, which could indicate he is still in the team's plans in the future.