(Continuing a month-long series analyzing players who are on the roster bubble and where they may potentially fit in 2014.)
Name: Dustin Hopkins
2013 stats: None; spent entire season on injured reserve.
Chance of making 53-man roster: 40 percent
Why he should make it: When the Bills re-signed kicker Dan Carpenter to a four-year deal with $2.15 million in guaranteed money, it indicated that Carpenter very much remained in the team's plans. That puts Hopkins' roster spot in considerable jeopardy. The sixth-round pick beat out Rian Lindell for the kicking job last training camp, only to suffer a season-ending groin injury just before the start of the regular season. Hopkins was back healthy this spring and booming his kickoffs. Coach Doug Marrone has indicated that the Bills could keep two kickers, with Hopkins handling kickoffs and Carpenter as a field-goal specialist.
Why he shouldn't make it: In recent seasons, only a few teams have carried two healthy kickers into the regular season. It's a luxury that most teams can't afford, and the Bills may fall into that category. If Carpenter's kickoffs are adequate, do the Bills really need Hopkins? Or would it be more useful to carry a developmental player at another position? If I was general manager Doug Whaley, I'd lean towards the latter. Hopkins provides insurance this summer in case Carpenter is injured, but I don't see him beating out Carpenter for the full-time kicking job. Giving a kicker a $2.15 million signing bonus and then cutting him before the first year of his contract wouldn't be sound financial management.
Closest competition: Carpenter