Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Hopkins' fate with Bills hinges on specialist role


Last season, Dan Carpenter was brought in as an injury replacement for Buffalo Bills kicker Dustin Hopkins, following his release by the Miami Dolphins. He subsequently put up career bests in field goal percentage and points in 2014 and was awarded a four-year contract for his efforts.

While a kick-off with the younger Hopkins seemed like a given this season now that the team has begun training camp, coach Doug Marrone quashed those thoughts Tuesday, looking instead to ride the Carpenter wave in terms of field goal duties.

"He has to play his way on to this roster as a kickoff specialist," Marrone said of Hopkins, who reportedly hasn't attempted a field goal yet in the team's first three camp sessions.

That's bad news for the team's sixth-round pick of last year, as a poor camp performance could have him looking for work by the end of the summer. 

One positive note for the 23-year-old, however, has been Carpenter's distance on kickoffs. The veteran had only a 41 percent touchback rating last season on 83 tries, an effort that left him 25th overall in efficiency. He and his unit allowed a little more than 1,100 yards on kickoffs in 2013, sixth-most in the league. 

In other Bills kicking news, the team's website reported Tuesday that punter Brian Moorman is currently outshining his counterpart, rookie Jake Dombrowski. Moorman reportedly averaged more than 50 yards on his kicks today along with some serious hang time (+/- 5 seconds), while the younger Dombrowski has been less consistent in combining the two statistics.

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