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Ryan raises the ante on Bills kicker position


The Bills signing of veteran K Billy Cundiff came at the expense of kickoff specialist Jordan Gay on Wednesday. Adding Cundiff might also be serving as a message for current placekicker Dan Carpenter.

Bills head coach Rex Ryan confirmed Wednesday that Cundiff will handle kickoffs when the Bills face the Titans in Tennessee Sunday, but he stopped short of saying who will attempt field goals.

"Billy is a guy that obviously has a history in this league, but he does have a strong leg so he can handle kickoffs and he's been a good kicker," said Ryan. "We'll see how everything plays out."

As far as Carpenter and Cundiff know their roles for this week are separate and distinct.

"All I've been told is everything is the same," said Carpenter. "Obviously Billy (Cundiff) is here instead of Jordan."

"Right now for this week I was told I'm going to be the kickoff guy," said Cundiff. "So right now I'm preparing to do the best I possibly can kicking off and we'll kind of see what else happens."

When Ryan was asked who will kick field goals on Sunday, the Bills head coach left things open ended.

"We'll see how the week goes," said Ryan.

Carpenter maintains he isn't bothered by the presence of a veteran with kickoff and field goal experience on the roster.

"Whether someone is here or not makes no difference," he said. "It just means that maybe if they wanted to change something maybe it's (easier) because he's here already instead of getting on a flight. But it doesn't change anything. I have to make kicks to stay on the team. So nothing has changed in my preparation or what I'm going to do. There's nothing I can do except go out and do my best and hope they all go in."

Cundiff, who has been on the other side of the situation he's currently in with Carpenter, is keeping things professional. He's had unorthodox roles like this before.

"In 2006 I was a kickoff guy for the Saints, so I've done it before" he said. "This is a unique situation. I've been in a couple of those in my career. I know I was kind of like an insurance policy in the playoffs for David Akers in 2012. That was an interesting one."

One could argue that he's in the same kind of situation again in Buffalo, but Cundiff is sticking to the role that's been laid out for him this week.

"My job is really simple, just try to get touchbacks," he said. "I feel like kickoffs are something I've been good at in my career. It's something I've been really comfortable with and then just try to help Dan out any way I possibly can to help make a positive difference in the games."

Carpenter has been trying to keep his preparation, kicking motion and operation with snapper Garrison Sanborn and holder Colton Schmidt the same each week. He's had an 89 percent success rate in his two-plus seasons with the Bills, but knows he has to climb out of the uncharacteristic rut he is in.

"I shouldn't really be missing kicks inside the 40. It's as simple as that," he said in reference to his missed 30-yard attempt last week. "We've worked ourselves to be as consistent as we can. They have to be able to rely on someone to make those kicks."

Carpenter has also examined his kicking mechanics on film and compared it to tape from a couple of years ago to see if anything is out of the ordinary. He also wants to be careful not to overanalyze his game.

"I think I've been hitting the ball pretty well," he said. "Overall and in practice and in games I've just had a few that haven't gone through. I'm not starting over with what I do and how I go about my week. Just continue to work on my craft and go from there."

A career 84.3 percent kicker, Carpenter certainly has the more impressive resume. However, after going 3-for-6 on field goal attempts in the preseason with a missed extra point, he has missed on 54 and 30-yard attempts in the regular season as well as an extra point. With points at a premium every week Ryan probably can't afford to wait much longer for Carpenter to get back to his normal reliable self.

Ryan said that former kickoff specialist Jordan Gay did a "tremendous job in the role that he had," but sometimes just carrying a kickoff guy isn't the best thing for your team.

Whether that's an indication that Carpenter's role as just a placekicker is an issue too remains to be seen.

When Ryan was asked if it's possible that there is only one kicker on the roster by the end of the week he didn't dismiss it.

"That's a possibility," said Ryan.

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