Saturday, April 27, 2013
Kicking competitions coming to AFC East
By James Walker
Quarterback isn't the only position where there will be various competitions involving rookies in training camp. Two teams in the AFC East also drafted place kickers on Day 3 of the NFL draft.
The Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills picked kickers in the fifth and sixth rounds, respectively. The Dolphins selected Florida kicker Caleb Sturgis and Buffalo picked Florida State kicker Dustin Hopkins.
Sturgis will compete with Dolphins veteran kicker Dan Carpenter, who struggled at times last season. Carpenter missed five field-goal attempts in 2012 and botched 21 attempts the past three seasons. Carpenter has kicked in Miami for six consecutive seasons, but may have to earn his spot against Sturgis this summer. It's also possible that Carpenter could be a salary-cap casualty for the Dolphins, who spent a lot of money in free agency this offseason.
Meanwhile, veteran kicker Rian Lindell has been a staple in Buffalo for nine seasons. His accuracy remains solid. But at 36, Lindell's leg strength is diminishing. Hopkins comes to Buffalo as the NCAA's all-time leading scorer. Most importantly, Hopkins has a strong leg, which is needed in Buffalo's inclement weather for field goals and kickoffs. Similar to Carpenter, Lindell also could become a salary-cap casualty. But at the very least, Lindell must compete for his job.
Keep an eye on both of these new kicking developments in the AFC East this offseason.