Last year, Shawn Powell beat out veteran punter Brian Moorman in Buffalo. This year, Powell could have the favor returned.
As explained by Jay Skurski of the Buffalo News, both Powell and kicker Rian Lindell could end up losing their jobs to Brian Stahovich and Dustin Hokpins, respectively.
The problem for the incumbent specialists is that the Bills have a new coaching staff.
“I think it all depends on how and where we’re evolving and where we’re moving and what our plan is as a team, on finding the best way to win football games,” special-teams coordinator Danny Crossman said of Lindell’s chances of keeping his job. “I’ve been around a lot of veteran kickers and it can change year to year on what the philosophy of that team is and how that team ends up being built.”
Lindell is likely more vulnerable, given that the Bills invested a sixth-round pick in Hopkins. Stahovich was a camp leg in Indianapolis last year.
For teams that don’t have dynamic passing offenses, kicking and punting take on extra importance in the battle for field goals and field position. In Minnesota last year, for example, rookie draft pick Blair Walsh helped the Vikings to the playoffs by making 10 of 10 field goals from 50 yards or beyond.
Sure, having Adrian Peterson didn’t hurt. But without a franchise quarterback, strong special-teams play becomes even more important — and Lindell has tried only two 50-plus yard field goals in the last two seasons.