September 6, 2013 - 10:57 AM
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.
easily beat out all-time Bills kicker Rian Lindell in training camp. But days
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" »
September 4, 2013 - 3:15 PM
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.
September 2, 2013 - 7:25 PM
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.
August 24, 2013 - 1:24 AM
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
August 21, 2013 - 12:03 PM
By Tim Graham
Rian Lindell is wearing a Tampa Bay Buccaneers uniform now,
but he has distributed an open letter to thank Buffalo Bills fans for the past
decade of support. The Bills released Lindell on Monday morning.
Thank you, Bills fans, for all the support I've received
over the years and over the last few days. I always tried to remember the
people I represented every time I put the Bills uniform on. Over the
years, I've truly enjoyed hearing the many stories Bills fans had to share from
Sundays at the Ralph.
I'll never forget the feeling of driving into the parking
lot on gameday and seeing the excitement of fans young or old, warm or cold,
going through their pregame routines in anticipation of a Bills victory. What I
came to understand over the years was the genuine passion Western
New York and Bills nation has for their Bills, and I can't tell
you how appreciative I am to have been a part of it for a decade.
I also want to thank Mr. Wilson and each and every
person in the organization for 10 great years together. You made my family
and I feel like we were truly a part of your family, and we were proud to
"circle the wagons" with you.
Thank you, Buffalo,
and while I begin a new and exciting chapter of my career, I look forward to
our paths crossing again down the road.
August 19, 2013 - 12:12 PM
Buffalo News reporters Tim Graham and Jay Skurski talk about Rian Lindell's career with the Bills and the team's choice to move forward with rookie Dustin Hopkins:
August 19, 2013 - 11:20 AM
By Tim Graham
PITTSFORD -- When the Buffalo Bills used a sixth-round draft
pick on a kicker, Rian Lindell hoped the rookie would be a dud.
That would've made the situation easier for Lindell. He
could compete against the kid and not feel one bit conflicted.
"When I first met him, I kind of hoped he'd be a
knucklehead," Lindell told me this morning. "Maybe that would give me
a little bit of an advantage."
Continue reading "Rian Lindell admits better kicker won Bills competition" »
August 19, 2013 - 8:41 AM
By Tim Graham
PITTSFORD -- The Buffalo Bills have released the player who
had been with them longer than anyone else.
The Bills this morning announced they've cut kicker Rian
Lindell. The move ends one of the summer's biggest competitions. The Bills
drafted kicker Dustin Hopkins in the sixth round, and the rookie's livelier leg
was evident in practice.
Lindell was entering his 14th NFL season and 11th with the
Bills. He holds franchise records with an 83.3 career field-goal
percentage, a 92.0 field-goal percentage in 2006, 18 consecutive successful field
goals in 2007 and 225 consecutive extra points.
Continue reading "Bills end kicker competition by cutting incumbent Rian Lindell" »
August 16, 2013 - 9:58 PM
By Tim Graham
Quick highlights from the Buffalo Bills' victory over the
Minnesota Vikings tonight in Ralph Wilson Stadium ...
What it means: Kevin Kolb wasted a precious opportunity to
impress the coaching staff. He started the game and completed just three of his
first eight passes with an interception. Kolb finished 13 of 21 for 111 yards
and no touchdowns.
Bills star of the game: Bills defensive end Jerry Hughes,
starting for Mario Williams on the right side, sacked Christian Ponder on the
game's first snap and added a strip-sack of Matt Cassel in the second quarter.
Stat line of the day: Rookie quarterback EJ Manuel completed
all six of his passes for 44 yards, including a 4-yard touchdown toss to Brad
Smith, on his first drive to start the second half.
Dirty laundry: Bills coach Doug Marrone was upset when his
players committed nine penalties for 74 yards in their first preseason game.
The Bills had nine penalties by halftime tonight and finished with 14 accepted for 106
Kicker duel: Sixth-round pick Dustin Hopkins again took the
first kicks. Hopkins
made field goals from 39 and 35 yards. Rian Lindell didn't get any attempts in
the second half and kicked off once. ... Punter Shawn Powell, who apparently won the job when the Bills cut Brian Stahovich a few days ago, shanked his first punt 19 yards out of bounds.
Preliminary injury report: Wide receiver Kevin Elliott was
carted to the locker room in the second quarter with an apparent left leg
Coming up: Buffalo will visit
4:30 p.m. next Saturday.
August 16, 2013 - 2:14 PM
By Tim Graham
Here are a handful of things I'll be looking for tonight,
when the Buffalo Bills play the Minnesota Vikings in Ralph Wilson Stadium:
Will Kevin Kolb insist the quarterback competition remains
open? Tonight's start for Kevin Kolb surely seems ceremonial. EJ Manuel left
Kolb behind when the veteran twisted a knee and then left the team for a
funeral. Manuel then played well in Sunday's preseason opener, while Kolb
didn't take a snap. Kolb needs a strong performance to remind fans why the
Bills signed him.
How will the Bills' first-team run defense look against
Adrian Peterson? The Bills' run defense was the NFL's second-worst last year.
Although it's only preseason, Peterson provides a measuring stick. Rookie
middle linebacker Kiko Alonso won't play for precautionary reasons, but it
would have been nice to see how well he could chase a star running back.
What kind of opportunities will the receivers have? They're
fighting for reps, and with Stevie Johnson, Brad Smith and T.J. Graham out with
injuries, the chances should be there. Fifteen different Bills were targeted
for passes Sunday in Indianapolis.
Seven of them were wide receivers. While so much of the attention was given to other
wideouts, Marcus Easley caught all seven passes thrown his way for a game-high
94 yards. DeMarco Sampson was next with four catches for 49 yards. Anybody
could step up tonight.
Can Rian Lindell assert himself in kicking competition?
Telling attempts weren't available in the preseason opener. Sixth-round pick Dustin
Hopkins made his field goals from only 24 and 23 yards. Lindell made his from
30 yards and was more reliable on kickoffs, albeit with less power. The Bills already
have released punter Brian Stahovich, essentially awarding that job to Shawn
Powell. They probably wouldn't mind naming their kicker, too.
What will Bills' secondary look like? The Vikings don't present much of a threat in the passing game with dink-and-dunk Christian Ponder, but the Bills' defensive backs have shown troubling tendencies to get beat, especially deep.