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Lindell, Hopkins focused on form, not competition


As the quarterback competition in Buffalo remains one of the top stories another competition is taking place in its shadow.

Rian Lindell and sixth-round pick Dustin Hopkins are in the midst of a kicking competition. For both, their main focus is simply bettering themselves.

"You just go out there and you do the best you can and you focus on what you can control," Hopkins said. "If you're focused on what somebody else is doing, you're probably not going to be worried about what you need to be worried about going into a kick."

During spring practices and OTA's, some of Hopkins kicks were hooking left. Hopkins said he spent time breaking down film and working on his steps to fix his kick. 

On Saturday, Lindell and Hopkins each went six for 10. Lindell missed from 47, 49, 50 and 52 yards. He was good from 29, 31, 35, 39, 42 and 45. Hopkins missed from 42, 44, 49 and 51 yards, and made from 33, 37, 40, 42, and 51 twice.

Sunday's practice provided an opportunity to kick in windy conditions. Lindell went 10-for-13, missing from 44, 45 and 51 yards. Hopkins went five-for-11. He missed from 32, 40, 41, 42, 48 and 49 yards. He did make the longest field goal of the day from 52 yards away.

Of the two, Hopkins appears to have the stronger leg on kickoffs. To make up for this, Lindell said he's been working on his accuracy. On Sunday, Lindell took two more kickoffs than Hopkins.

"I have to place the ball perhaps better than some of the guys who just put it through the uprights. I think I do a pretty good job at that." he said. "I'm trying to stay a little more upright and not be all leg. It's a lot like a golf swing, try to put all the parts together and get the timing right."

Punter Shawn Powell has game experience with both Lindell and Hopkins. Powell held for Hopkins for three years while they were teammates at Florida State.

"There are little things that Rian knows that Dustin doesn't, but all that does is come with time," Powell said. "It's all about getting the feel for it. Once you get the feel for it, it just starts rolling."

Powell said that Hopkins is in a similar situation to the one he was in last year when he came in to replace Brian Moorman. Both are young rookies, coming in to compete against experienced veterans. 

Lindell praised Hopkins after practice on Friday saying he is a very good kicker and is going to make a lot of good kicks. Hopkins said that given what Lindell has done throughout his career, it's an honor just to compete with him.

Lindell, entering his 14th season in the NFL, is only 31 points away from breaking Steve Christie's all-time Bills scoring record of 1,011. That's a title and an honor Lindell wants.

"That would be nice to get," he said. "The leading scorer of your favorite team would be pretty cool, but you have to earn it. I've just got to get better. "

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