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Dustin Hopkins gets first kicks, shows jitters on the field

By Tim Graham

INDIANAPOLIS -- A look at the stat sheet wouldn't reveal much about the Buffalo Bills' kicking competition after the preseason opener.

Veteran incumbent Rian Lindell made an easy 30-yard field goal in Lucas Oil Stadium. Sixth-round draft pick Dustin Hopkins converted his attempts from 24 yards and 23 yards away.

Interesting, though, was that Bills coach Doug Marrone gave Hopkins the first half and Lindell the second half.

A veteran usually has honors over a rookie in any even competition.

Lindell is entering his 14th NFL season, but he's on wobbly ground. The Bills didn't throw away a draft choice just to push Lindell in training camp. Any street free agent could've done that.

Hopkins didn't do himself an favors on kickoffs. His first went into the end zone for a touchback to open the game.

But coach Doug Marrone didn't like Hopkins' second kickoff, which was returned 28 yards, or his third, which went out of bounds to give Indianapolis a first down at Buffalo's 40-yard line.

"The first one was great, and then he had two mishits, really," Marrone said. "When Dustin goes in there as a young guy, you just want him to calm down a little bit. It's little difference between him and the quarterbacks that come in early in the game first time ever."

Hopkins' fourth kickoff went 8 yards deep into the end zone, and his fifth went 5 yards deep.

Lindell's kickoffs went 3 yards deep, 1 yard deep, 2 yards deep and 1 yard short of the end zone.


Doug Marrone | Dustin Hopkins | Rian Lindell
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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 |

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 |

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 |