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Is it a big deal that Rian Lindell lost his holder?

By Tim Graham

How much will Brian Moorman's departure -- four practice days before the Buffalo Bills play the New England Patriots -- impact kicker Rian Lindell?

The Bills cut Moorman, their longtime punter and field-goal holder, Tuesday. In the meantime, backup quarterback Tyler Thigpen and rookie punter Shawn Powell have picked up the holding duties with Powell eventually taking over permanently.

Lindell struggled to find consistency in the preseason, missing a point-blank attempt in the exhibition opener and fighting through frustrations in practice. Now, with a huge rivalry game ahead, another variable has been added to the equation.

Keeping in mind that it took a 28-yard Lindell field goal as time expired to beat the Patriots last year in Ralph Wilson Stadium, I reached out to a couple of experts for their thoughts on breaking in a new holder on short notice.

The Press Coverage blog will circle the globe for analysis, and here are two international takes ...

Nine-year NFL kicker Michael Husted, owner of Husted Kicking camps and consulting, sent an email from El Salvador (follow him on Twitter @HustedKicking):

"Since Powell held in college, if he ends up holding, it shouldn't be a big impact. Garrison Sanborn is an excellent snapper, which makes the holder's job easier. If the operation is smooth, which all starts with a good snap, there shouldn't be any recognizable difference.

"A kicker needs to trust the snap, hold and blocking so that they can focus on their job and execute. Rian has been around long enough and is an excellent kicker. Therefore, that shouldn't be an issue.

"Since Powell has experience, if I were Rian, I would want Shawn to hold. However, at the end of the day you have to go with the best holder that you feel the most comfortable holding.

"Now if they decided to have Thigpen hold, then his experience will determine whether there is a big impact or not.

"During my career, I had two different QBs hold for me, Casey Weldon and Steve Walsh. They did a good job, and offer the capability of running fakes. 

"However, since punters and kickers spend a lot of time hanging out on the sideline, they can get plenty of reps in during the week in between the fun kicker/punter games that take place and attempting to solve the world's problems. Having Powell hold seems like the most logical decision."

Former Bills kicker Steve Christie said this by phone from Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont.:

"It does take a little while to adjust, but Brian is a good enough kicker that I don't think he's going to be affected. He's been really solid. He's been consistent. I don't think breaking in a new holder is going to be a big deal for him.

"It may take a little bit longer because he's a rookie doing it in the NFL. But then again it helps when you have a veteran like Rian. That certainly will speed things up. If he's a good enough athlete, he'll be able to adjust to just adding that to the responsibilities of being a solid punter. It's just a part of the job."

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About Press Coverage

Tim Graham

Tim Graham

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

@ByTimGraham | tgraham@buffnews.com


Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

@gggaughan | mgaughan@buffnews.com


Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.

@JaySkurski | jskurski@buffnews.com

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