There was plenty to like about the Bills 43-20 win over Indianapolis on Sunday. One female fan was particularly pleased with Buffalo’s execution of one of the most basic plays in football.
“My grandmother actually texted me, and told me she started crying when she saw me and Dustin out there for that first field goal attempt,” said Shawn Powell, the Bills punter and holder for kicker Dustin Hopkins, his teammate at Florida State. “The kicker and holder were back together. It’s a real special moment for both of us. Hopefully we will be able to do this for the next 10 years together.”
The former Seminole standout special teams duo and ex-roommates have been reunited in Western New York. Powell and Hopkins will look to leave training camp as the team’s punter and kicker, respectively.
For nine seasons, Buffalo had one of the most stable special teams situations in the league with Rian Lindell at kicker and Brian Moorman punter. Have the Bills found their newest dynamic kicking duo?
“It was an answered prayer,” Hopkins said about being drafted by Buffalo last April.
“I felt very blessed. It is something you dream about your whole life. After that day of celebration you have to jump into that mindset of you can’t relax. if you come here and don’t perform, you are done. It’s a humbling experience and I know I have to do my job.”
Hopkins set the NCAA Division I FBS record for career points scored by a kicker finishing with 466. He had an up and down senior season finishing 25-of-40 on field goals, but he made five of six attempts from 50 yards or longer.
Hopkins connected on field goals of 24 and 23 yards in Sunday’s win over the Colts.
“It’s been pretty cool so far because Shawn held my first field goal in college and now he held my first goal in the pros,” Hopkins said. “It’s cool to see a great friend of yours in another uniform, but you are doing the same thing. It is pretty cool.”
Hopkins came into training camp looking to unseat Lindell, the team’s kicker since 2003. Lindell’s accuracy wasn’t an issue last year as he finished 21-of-24 but his leg strength might be his undoing when compared to Hopkins. Fourteen of Lindell’s 21 field goals came from inside 40 yards last season.
“I think with the quarterbacks you see it, I didn’t see any effect on the quarterbacks with the wind; but with the kickers, they’re trying to play that placement with the wind,” said Doug Marrone, Buffalo head coach.
“And I think it’s a great learning experience when you go through camp. And then hopefully, something I can control is when you get a hot day or two here, before we break, which we hope that we do.”
Page 2 of 2 - Powell knows how tough it can be to be the new guy in training camp. Last year he was trying to wrestle the punter’s job away from Brian Moorman, a former two-time All-Pro who excelled for the team since 2001.
Powell won the starting job after the team released Moorman in the third week of the regular season. He finished with a 44.0 average on 65 punts placing 23 inside the 20-yard-line.
Powell’s job appears safe as the team released Brian Stahovich on Tuesday, the only other punter in training camp.
“This training camp is a bit different because the roles are reversed and I am trying to have to keep my job,” Powell said. “My job is on the line and I need to do everything I can do to make sure I stick around just as long as Brian did.”