Dan Carpenter spent five mostly successful seasons in Miami, but the Dolphins decided to go in another direction last spring at the kicker spot.
Carpenter was a longtime kicker in Miami who was being pushed out by rookie draft pick Caleb Sturgis. Carpenter's career was mostly successful with the Dolphins -- he made the Pro Bowl in 2009 -- until he hit rough patches last year under a new coaching staff.
Several missed kicks in key spots last year influenced the Dolphins to look for an alternative in April's NFL draft. Miami cut Carpenter on Aug. 14 after the second preseason game. Now, Carpenter has found a new home in Buffalo (2-4) and will face the Dolphins (3-2) for the first time Sunday.
Carpenter is off to a stellar start with the Bills, making 12 of his 13 field-goal attempts. He also has three field goals of 50 yards or more.
Although Carpenter is coming to Sun Life Stadium to beat his former team, he said his motivation isn't personal.
"I don't have any bitter feelings about what happened," Carpenter said Wednesday in a phone interview with ESPN.com. "I understand it's a business, and obviously they found a young [kicker] who is doing really well for them. But it will be fun. It will be different to come back to Florida and get dressed in the visiting locker room and come out of the tunnel and go to the other sideline. It will be something new and I'm excited."
Carpenter, who spent five years with the Dolphins, said he's not sure what type of reception he will receive this weekend in his return to Miami. He was once a popular special teams player. But Dolphins fans eventually grew frustrated last year when he failed to make several field goals in big spots. A case can be made that Miami could have won an extra game or two last year if Carpenter was more consistent.
The writing was on the wall for Carpenter in the spring when Miami spent a fifth-round pick on Sturgis. Carpenter also was due to make $2.68 million from the Dolphins in the final year of his contract, compared to Sturgis' $405,000 salary.
Battle of the kickers
Both kickers for Miami and Buffalo are doing well this season.
To this day, Carpenter isn't sure how much salary factored into the decision.
"To answer the financial question, I don't know financially where Miami sits. ... So that's kind of a hard question to answer," Carpenter said. "I was given just as many kicking opportunities in camp and in the games that [Sturgis] was. To his credit, he did really well and they went with him. There's nothing I can do about it. I'm now in Buffalo and enjoying my time up here. We're going to come down there and try to get a win."
Imagine this scenario: There's just a few seconds left in Sunday's game and Buffalo trails Miami by two points. Carpenter lines up to attempt a game-winning field goal that could send the Dolphins spiraling to a three-game losing streak.
It's a real possibility, and Carpenter admits the thought has crossed his mind.
"As a kicker you think about that every week," Carpenter said. "Every game in the NFL is usually very tight, score-wise. They're always close. A lot of games come down to three points or less in this league. That just shows the competitiveness of this league. That's something that could play out any week, and any week you hit a game-winner it's going to be special."
Keep an eye on Carpenter this weekend on Buffalo's sideline. If the game is close, an old friend could have a chance for revenge against at a crucial time.