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Jairus Byrd, Doug Legursky still limited participants in practice

By Jay Skurski

The Buffalo Bills' injury report remains unchanged this afternoon heading into Sunday's game at the New York Jets.

Safety Jairus Byrd (feet) and guard Doug Legursky (knee) participated in a limited basis on the team's grass field outside next to the fieldhouse, while kicker Dustin Hopkins (groin), cornerback Ron Brooks (foot), cornerback Stephon Gilmore (wrist) and wide receiver Marquise Goodwin (hand) were held out.

For the Jets, receiver Santonio Holmes did not practice Thursday because of a foot injury. Holmes participated in a limited basis on Wednesday. Running back Bilal Powell was a full participant in practice Thursday after being limited Wednesday, while offensive lineman Oday Aboushi was a new addition to the report Thursday because of a knee injury.

Doug Marrone not yet ready to say Bills have a kicking competition

By Jay Skurski

Buffalo Bills coach Doug Marrone said he'll wait until rookie kicker Dustin Hopkins is 100 percent healthy before deciding whether he will need to compete with veteran Dan Carpenter for the job.

"I'm going to wait to make that decision," Marrone said today. "Right now, what we have is Dan's out there playing for us and we're happy."

Carpenter made a good case for the job in Sunday's victory over the Carolina Panthers at Ralph Wilson Stadium. He bounced back from missing a 42-yard attempt by hitting from 55 yards.

Continue reading "Doug Marrone not yet ready to say Bills have a kicking competition" »

Jairus Byrd among Panthers-Bills inactives

By Tim Graham

Here are the inactives for this afternoon's game between the Carolina Panthers and Buffalo Bills in Ralph Wilson Stadium:

Carolina Panthers

  • Running back Kenjon Barner
  • Tight end Brandon Williams
  • Center Brian Folkerts
  • Defensive end Wes Horton
  • Defensive tackle Sione Fua
  • Cornerback Melvin White
  • Cornerback James Dockery

Buffalo Bills

  • Wide receiver Marquise Goodwin
  • Tight end Chris Gragg
  • Guard Doug Legursky
  • Cornerback Stephon Gilmore
  • Cornerback Ron Brooks
  • Safety Jairus Byrd
  • Kicker Dustin Hopkins

Jairus Byrd, Rob Gronkowski top list of Bills-Patriots inactives

By Jay Skurski

Inactives for today's season opener between the Buffalo Bills and New England Patriots here at Ralph Wilson Stadium:

Buffalo Bills

  • CB Stephon Gilmore (wrist)
  • G Doug Legursky (knee)
  • K Dustin Hopkins (groin)
  • S Jairus Byrd (feet)
  • DT Jay Ross (healthy)
  • TE Chris Gragg (healthy)
  • DL Corbin Bryant (healthy)

Justin Rogers will start at right cornerback in place of Gilmore, while Da'Norris Searcy starts at free safety in place of Byrd.

New England Patriots

  • TE Rob Gronkowski (back)
  • WR Aaron Dobson (hamstring)
  • RB Brandon Bolden (knee)
  • OL Will Svitek (knee)
  • DB Nate Ebner (ankle)
  • DB Duron Hamon (hamstring)
  • KR Leon Washington (healthy) 

Jairus Byrd listed as doubtful on final Week One injury report

By Tim Graham

There were no surprises on the Buffalo Bills' final injury report for Week One.

Most notable was Pro Bowl safety Jairus Byrd, who officially has been designated as doubtful because of his foot problems.

"He's put a lot of work into knowing what we're doing in the system, being out there," Bills coach Doug Marrone said today.

Ruled out are left guard Doug Legursky (knee), cornerback Stephon Gilmore (wrist) and kicker Dustin Hopkins (groin).

Rookie quarterback EJ Manuel (knee) is listed as probable and will play.

"Gilmore being hurt, obviously, is something you can't do anything about," Marrone said, "but that's not a good thing for our football team. He's a really good player.

"Doug added some depth to us, and then with Dustin ... For the most part we've come out healthy if you look at the number, but a lot of times it depends on who's within that number."

No guarantees for Dustin Hopkins to remain Bills kicker

By Tim Graham

Of the 10 rookies on the Buffalo Bills' roster, the only one who knows he won't make his NFL debut Sunday against the New England Patriots is kicker Dustin Hopkins.

Hopkins easily beat out all-time Bills kicker Rian Lindell in training camp. But days before Hopkins should've realized his dream of playing in the NFL, he strained the groin on his kicking leg.

The Bills signed former Miami Dolphins kicker Dan Carpenter, and coach Doug Marrone already has ruled out Hopkins for Sunday.

"Obviously, I want to be out there," Hopkins said. "This is something you work toward since you're a little kid, and it becomes more real and more real the older you get. I'm excited for when that opportunity comes up, and I think it'll come soon."

Continue reading "No guarantees for Dustin Hopkins to remain Bills kicker" »

Vagabond kicker Dan Carpenter will handle job for Bills on Sunday

By Tim Graham

Over the past three weeks, Dan Carpenter has worn four NFL uniforms and been cut three times.

Mr. Have Tee Will Travel will be the Buffalo Bills' kicker Sunday against the New England Patriots.

With rookie kicker Dustin Hopkins unable to practice because of a right groin strain, Bills coach Doug Marrone announced this afternoon Carpenter will handle the season opener.

The only time the Bills beat the Patriots over their past 19 meetings, a last-second Rian Lindell field goal won it.

Carpenter has spent his five seasons with the Miami Dolphins, making the Pro Bowl as an alternate in 2009. He has converted 81.9 percent of his field goals, but only 50 percent from 50 yards or longer.

The Dolphins cut him three weeks ago. He signed with the Arizona Cardinals and New York Jets but couldn't stick with either club. Carpenter was on his way to a tryout with the Cleveland Browns when the Bills signed him this week.

Bills confirm signing of kicker Dan Carpenter

By Jay Skurski

The Buffalo Bills today announced they have signed kicker Dan Carpenter.

The 27-year-old is entering his sixth NFL season, after spending the first five with the Miami Dolphins. Carpenter was cut by Miami during training camp after getting beat out by rookie Caleb Sturgis. He also had four-day stints with the Arizonal Cardinals and New York Jets before joining the Bills.

For his career, Carpenter is 127 of 155 (81.9 percent) on field-goal attempts, with a career long of 60 yards. He went 22 of 27 (81.5 percent) with a long of 53 yards last season for Miami. Carpenter, 6-foot-2 and 228 pounds, has put 97 of 357 career kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks, 27.2 percent.  

Carpenter originally entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent out of Montana. he joins rookie Dustin Hopkins on the Bills' 53-man roster at kicker. Hopkins reportedly suffered a groin injury during Monday's practice, but the team has not commented on the severity of the injury. The team is off today.

Carpenter's signing puts the Bills at the 53-man roster limit.

Report: Bills to sign Dan Carpenter after K Dustin Hopkins injured

By Jay Skurski

Rookie kicker Dustin Hopkins suffered a groin injury today in practice, according to a report from ESPN's Adam Schefter.

Schefter first reported the Bills are on the verge of signing veteran kicker Dan Carpenter.

He then followed that up a few minutes later with the news that Hopkins, a rookie sixth-round draft pick out of Florida State, suffered a groin injury during today's practice.

Bills coach Doug Marrone made no mention of Hopkins being injured during his news conference following today's practice. 

Carpenter, 27, has spent the first five years of his career with the Miami Dolphins. He is 127 of 155 (81.9 percent) on field goals, with a career long of 60 yards. He's made 154 of 155 career extra-point attempts.

Carpenter went 22 of 27 on field goals for the Dolphins in 2012. He was beat out for Miami's kicking job during training camp by rookie Caleb Sturgis. Since then, Carpenter has had four-day stints with the Arizona Cardinals and New York Jets.

Hopkins beat out veteran Rian Lindell for the Bills' kicking job during training camp. Hopkins went 6 for 6 on field goals in the preseason, but did not have any attempts from 40 yards or longer. Only four of Hopkins' 14 kickoffs during the preseason went for touchbacks. He also had one kickoff go out of bounds.

Carpenter, meanwhile, has 97 touchbacks on 357 career kickoffs.

Carpenter would put the Bills at the 53-man roster limit.

What to watch for in today's Buffalo at Washington exhibition

By Tim Graham

Here is a handful of areas I'll be looking at this afternoon, when the Buffalo Bills play Washington at FedEx Field:

Kevin Kolb can't win the job, but he can lose it. Rookie quarterback EJ Manuel was the frontrunner before a knee injury cropped up. Kolb is coming off a 55.9 passer rating in his preseason debut against the Minnesota Vikings. Even if he's sensational today, he won't capture anyone's imagination like Manuel has. But if Kolb struggles, then it's Manuel's job as soon as the rookie is healthy enough to play.

Several notable injured players could see action. The Bills could have their full complement of receivers, with Stevie Johnson, T.J. Graham and Brad Smith on the field. All have missed time with hamstring injuries. Johnson has yet to dress. Pass-rusher Mario Williams (foot), middle linebacker Kiko Alonso (shoulder) and cornerbacks Leodis McKelvin (groin) and Justin Rogers (hamstring) also are expected to play.

Can cornerbacks not named Stephon Gilmore provide reassurance? The sight of Gilmore's right foot being examined by athletic trainer Bud Carpenter on Tuesday night was unsettling for any Bills fan in attendance at Growney Stadium. The other cornerbacks have been erratic at best. Injuries have made the depth chart look more disconcerting.

Receivers, receivers, receivers. As mentioned already, Johnson will be back. But it would be more educational if he didn't play much. We know what he can do. The Bills will have some difficult decisions to make at receiver, and we'd learn a lot more if players such as Chris Hogan, Marcus Easley and Da'Rick Rogers got as many targets as possible.

Special-teamers aren't safe yet. The Bills recently awarded their kicking jobs by cutting kicker Rian Lindell and punter Brian Stahovich. Rookie kicker Dustin Hopkins hasn't lined up for a field goal longer than 39 yards in a preseason game yet. Powell shanked an ugly punt last week against the Vikings. They need to be consistently good to maintain Doug Marrone's trust.

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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 |