Inside The Bills

Marrone still open to kickoff specialist

Posted by Chris Brown on August 25, 2014 – 5:04 pm

Even though Bills K Dustin Hopkins was one of the 11 cuts made by the team on Monday, head coach Doug Marrone said they’d still consider adding a kickoff specialist.

Citing performance as the main reason for Hopkins’ departure, Marrone was asked if he’d still explore the idea of having a kickoff specialist on his team.

“We’re trying to make sure we have a guy who’s a kickoff guy,” said Marrone. “That hasn’t changed.”

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Marrone: Hopkins a kickoff specialist only

Posted by Chris Brown on July 22, 2014 – 11:01 am

It’s early in camp and Dan Carpenter has taken all the FG attempts. Dustin Hopkins has only taken kickoffs in practice. On Tuesday head coach Doug Marrone confirmed that Hopkins is strictly a kickoff specialist.

In fact Marrone stated that kickoff specialist is the role Hopkins has to try and land.

“He had to tr to make the roster as a kickoff specialist,” said Marrone.

Carpenter is coming off a career season where he hit on almost 92 percent of his kicks in 2013.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Hopkins kicks well

Posted by Chris Brown on June 20, 2014 – 10:49 am

He’s seen by most outside the building at One Bills Drive as a potential kickoff specialist for Buffalo with Dan Carpenter signing a sizable free agent deal with the Bills this offseason. But Dustin Hopkins is working to make the place kicking job a stiff competition as well. On the last day of minicamp Hopkins may have provided a sign of things to come.

Erratic in last year’s training camp, Hopkins’ performance on Thursday was in stark contrast. Both he and Carpenter had the opportunity to kick field goals in the final special teams segment of minicamp practice Thursday. Carpenter after going 8-for-8 on attempts Wednesday went 5-for-6 on Thursday with his only miss coming from 50 yards out. Hopkins meanwhile was a perfect 5-for-5. Below are their attempts kick by kick along with the results.

Carpenter                                           Hopkins
28 yards – right hash – good        32 yards – left hash – good
30 yards – left hash – good          35 yards – right hash – good
37 yards – right hash – good        41 yards – left hash – good
39 yards – left hash – good          48 yards – right hash – good
50 yards – right hash – wide rt.  53 yards – right hash – good
53 yards – left hash – good

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Carpenter was perfect

Posted by Chris Brown on June 19, 2014 – 2:26 pm

One last note from Bills minicamp day 2. During a special teams segment coordinator Danny Crossman had the field goal unit running through a series of eight attempts with Dan Carpenter taking all of them. Here’s how Carpenter fared.

1 – 32 yards – right hash – good
2 – 34 yards – left hash – good
3 – 36 yards – left hash – good
4 – 38 yards – right hash – good
5 – 42 yards – right hash – good
6 – 45 yards – left hash – good
7 – 46 yards – left hash – good
8 – 48 yards – right hash – good

A perfect 8-for-8 for Carpenter. We’ll see if Dustin Hopkins gets an opportunity in today’s final minicamp practice.



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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 5-30

Posted by Chris Brown on May 30, 2014 – 1:01 pm

Week 1 of OTAs is in the books and here are some of your latest questions about the team from email at and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – @ChrisBrownBills

what role does Hairston have? He played well until his injury but is a holdover. I hope he gets a fair shot


CB: Hairston right now is running mainly with the second team at left tackle. He hasn’t received a ton of reps in the team setting. We’re guessing it’s due in part to the fact that he hasn’t played any form of football on a field in almost a year after landing on the non-football illness list in 2013. He’s looked a bit rusty this week, which is understandable, but if he can regain the form that made him a very capable swing tackle two years ago, Buffalo’s line depth becomes that much better.


2 – @ChrisBrownBills

With the resigning of Dan Carpenter, what does this mean for Dustin Hopkins, he was injured, but he is the real deal…..

Jay C@SWFLChiver

CB: Carpenter is coming off a career year and the second-most accurate season in Bills team history. Unless he has a complete meltdown in training camp or the preseason Carpenter will be the place kicker. The key for Hopkins will be to demonstrate he can be a dynamic weapon on kickoffs by booting everything through the back of the end zone for touchbacks. Coach Marrone has said he’s not opposed to keeping two kickers if they can both prove they would be of great value to the team.

The trouble for Hopkins is his groin injury was severe and took a long time to heal. As a result he’s rusty entering OTAs having been unable to kick. He has to get his swing back and he has to do it in short order to convince the coaches that he deserves a spot on the 53-man roster.


3 – Chris,
With the Bills not making a move during draft for a tight end, how do you think the position will shake out behind Chandler? Do you see the Bills keeping Lee Smith? I like Chris Gragg as development tight end with good speed. What do you think he chances are to make the final roster? Tony Moeaki still is a question mark to me, since he has hardly played in 2 years. Can Gragg stick and lineup as be juke type of TE? Or is too small to beat LB/DB?

CB: Right now Scott Chandler is not participating in team work after coming off of offseason knee surgery. So that has opened up more opportunities for the likes of Tony Moeaki and Chris Gragg when it comes to the passing game. Lee Smith is primarily a blocker though he can work the short areas. In the first week of OTAs Moeaki and Gragg have seen the most action.

Moeaki is the most athletic in the group. His transition from catch to turning up field is very, very smooth. Gragg has very good straight line speed for a man his size (6-3 244), but like some of the other tight ends is not sudden in his movements when it comes to route running. He’s long-limbed which always helps in the passing game, but I would put Moeaki ahead of him.

We’ll know more about both players once the pads go on at training camp, but from a pure playmaking perspective Moeaki is going to be pushing Chandler.


4 – Chris,

With Watkins and Williams in, Graham would seem to go down to 5th on depth chart. Given they need special teamers like Easley/Hogan. How do you think this will play out? Goodwin and Graham are just too similar. I liked Hogan more as slot/special teamer. Could they trade Graham? Or will he have to fight for a spot in camp?

CB: I think Graham will have to fight for a spot on this roster. There is suddenly a lot of depth at receiver and Marquise Goodwin has the added advantage of being a pick made by the current regime, not one that was inherited like T.J.. The problem is Graham is not participating in any team work due to an offseason procedure. He can offer return ability to special teams, but Leodis McKelvin handles punts and Goodwin handles kickoffs.

Making things tougher Chris Hogan has had a solid first week of OTA practices. So when Graham is again full go in the practice setting he’ll have to really turn it up.


5 – Chris,

There has been much talk about the defensive formation Jim Schwartz is going to deploy this year.  He has been successful with the Wide 9 approach but with the personnel moves we have made, it appears to me that we may see as much of the 4-3 Under deployed by Mike Pettine as we will of a pure Wide 9.  Bringing in Spikes and moving Alonso upgrade the two linebacker spots and Rivers provide competition for Lawson.  That and the lack of another “pure” defensive end leads me to believe our defense is going to as varied as we saw last year.  Just hope it stays as agressive.

Appreciate your thoughts on this and as always, very much appreciate your insights and reporting on the comings and going at OBD.

Macungie, Pa.

CB: I don’t think you have to worry about the defense staying aggressive. Talking to some of the men up front this week (Kyle Williams, Marcell Dareus) the defense is all about being aggressive and getting up field. They feel it will cater well to what their strengths are across the defensive line.

Now that being said Manny Lawson and Jerry Hughes have some big adjustments to make as they will be full-time defensive ends in Jim Schwartz’s system. Mario will presumably man the left side and Lawson and Hughes will split the job on the right side.

We’ll be able to ascertain how it’s all coming together when the pads go on in July.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 4-11

Posted by Chris Brown on April 11, 2014 – 12:53 pm

The Bills pre-draft visits were in full swing this week. Stay close to for more visit updates in the weeks to come. For now here are some of your latest questions from email at and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Chris,
Thank you for keeping me informed for the last  decade. Before I only had the newspaper to go by and it was very slow and incomplete.

Three or more of these eleven  players Jake Mathews, Taylor Lewan, Greg Robinson, Sammy Watkins, Eric Ebron, Mike Evans, Kahlil Mack, Anthony Barr, C.J. Mosley, Justin Gilbert and Jadeveon Clowney will be avilable to the Bills for sure. If any of the top three QB’s are added to the mix then Buffalo can even be more selective.

I think the top 9 will go like this 1) QB/DE, 2) WR/DE, 3)&4) QBs, 5)QB/LB ,6) OT, 7) OT/LB,8)QB and Buffalo will choose Mack, Lewan, Watkins or Evans in that order depending on their availability.

I actually think the Bills will take an OT because it affects the most players. Players such as the RBs, the QB and the WR/TEs directly. No other position does this. I hope they get Lewan but if Mack is available I would go with him first because the defense wins FB games and Mack would push our “D” past Seattle in my modest opinion.

How do you see it at this point in time?


CB: It’s hard to know exactly what will fall to the Bills at nine as the teams in front of them, for the most part, need a lot of different building blocks. That means they could go in a number of different directions with their top pick. Knowing the QB class is far from intriguing outside of Manziel the popular speculation now is that only two QBs will go in the top 8, with Teddy Bridgewater looked upon as the QB falling out of the top 10.

Jacksonville at three is one of those pivot type picks, where what they do could largely impact the teams right behind them. They’re now thought to be considering a QB in round two rather than round one and will look to add a difference maker at another position on offense (Sammy Watkins?) after loading up on defense in free agency. I still think they’re still considering a QB, especially if Bortles is still on the board.

Mack will not make it to nine, no way, no how. So cross him off your list. Cleveland is unpredictable as to what they might do as are the Raiders at five. Atlanta is expected to go OL or DL and it will depend on which player is ranked highest on their board among those two positions. Tampa Bay is a virtual lock to receiver and take Mike Evans. Minnesota is likely to take a QB knowing the mess they had at the position last year and it could be Manziel there.

So what should be there for Buffalo? Probably one of the top three OTs (presumably Lewan), Ebron and C.J. Mosley. I don’t see Justin Gilbert or Anthony Barr as part of the equation there. Whether the Bills have another player or two ranked as high is unclear.

The most talented of the three I mentioned (Lewan, Ebron, Mosley) is probably Ebron, who one could argue also has the most upside. Lewan and Mosley kind of are what they are. They’ll both be very solid pros and should be in an NFL starting lineup right away, but Ebron has a chance to be special and that could give him the edge there. We’re all guessing, but the most important factor is how things play out in front of Buffalo.



2 – Chris,

Pardon me, but my brain is working overtime on the Bills.  With Carpenter in the fold where does this leave Hopkins?  Thought he was supposed to be the new guy with the strong leg.

Jim (Skaneateles)

It puts Hopkins in a tough spot. First of all he’s trying to come back from a bad groin injury on his kicking leg side. Second, he’s competing with a veteran kicker who put up the second most accurate FG kicking season in team history. With the money invested in Carpenter by the Bills, Hopkins is going to need to have the training camp of his life to unseat Carpenter.

Now head coach Doug Marrone is not opposed to carrying a second kicker as a kickoff specialist, which is a role that Hopkins could most definitely fill. However, the roster numbers have to work out right to keep a second kicker for such a luxury. We’ll see how it plays out this summer.



3 – Hey Chris,

Huge fan of yours and the Bills obviously. Just wondering about the Corey Graham signing. Will he be competing for second cornerback position with Leodis?  And if not, how will that affect Nickel Robey’s playing time, if at all?  Do you think it was a big contract for a potentially 3rd string corner or will his special teams play make up for it?


CB: As I’m sure you and most other fans have seen coach Marrone has said he intends to make Graham a part of the safety competition with Duke Williams, Jonathan Meeks and Da’Norris Searcy to fill the spot left by Jairus Byrd. He’ll also be the first guy in on the boundary at corner if McKelvin or Gilmore are sidelined by injury. As for Robey he will hold onto the role if Graham lands the safety spot next to Aaron Williams.


4 – Hey Chris,

I was just curious, if team a wanted to trade a player for a pick in the draft, and the traded player ended up failing the physical for team b, what would happen?  Would the player(s) selected with the traded pick pick(s) go to team b and the player that failed the physical would return to team a?  Or would something else happen?


CB: Yes, if a player did not pass the physical for his new team the trade would be nullified and any and all assets exchanged in the deal would revert back to their original clubs. That’s what happened several years ago when the Bills tried to trade John McCargo to the Indianapolis Colts. He failed his physical with the Colts due to a back problem they cited and the trade was nullified.

5 – Hi Chris,

Just wondering what your thoughts are on the Bills seemingly not attempting to keep Carrington or Moats. There was so much talk last summer about how well Carrington was coming along and now they could seem to care less about keeping him. I wouldn’t imagine it’s because of competition from other teams as he hasn’t proven himself on the field for any stretch of time.

Also looking at Rivers career he hardly seems like an upgrade from Moats. They both seem to be in the same kind of position as fill in LB’s struggling to get more snaps. Also what is the deal with Chris Williams? says he graded out terribly last season. To be honest I’m less than pleased with where the offensive line has gone under Marrone. In Gailey’s last season we had the fewest sacks and CJ’s yards per carry were through the roof. Marrone’s supposed to be a line guy and during his first year we were at the bottom of those stats and seem content to downgrade from Levitre to Williams at LG. Do you know anything we dont about where this might be going?


CB: I have it on very good authority that the Bills offered Carrington a contract extension before the 2013 season, but he and his agent (the same one as Jairus Byrd) turned it down. Three weeks later Carrington tore his quadriceps tendon and went on I-R in a contract year. Moats was presented with a contract offer this offseason and he chose not to take it thinking he could do better. Whether he did or not we may never know, but he signed a one-year veteran minimum deal with a $65K signing bonus.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 11-29

Posted by Chris Brown on November 29, 2013 – 12:05 pm

Hope you all had a good Thanksgiving Bills fans. Here is your latest edition of queries on email at and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Hey Chris
Long time Bills fan from Sacramento. First, thanks for all your hard work, you and John Murphy are a great team. You guys are my only source for my Bills fix until Sunday. My question is about the D-fence. With the Bills being bad against the run once again, why not put Alan Branch in the middle full time with Dareus. I know we want to change things and be multiple, to keep the offense guessing and confused. But it seems like we are setting the edge much better this season with Manny and company. Just curious on obvious running downs why not keep the bigs in the center.

Jake B

CB: Hopefully you’ve seen that the run defense has improved. A big reason why is because Branch, who has stepped into Alex Carrington’s role as the five-technique (line up opposite outside shoulder of RT) is effectively holding the point of attack on run downs.

At times Dareus has been lined up at end, but that’s been on pass downs at times. With Dareus and Williams working so well off each other inside, it makes more sense to keep Branch at the strong side end position.


2 – Chris

As you watch the Bills games and other NFL games, do you believe the best way to build a team is to put almost all of your salary cap into the offense?  We are built to run right now and put money into the defense (which I am happy about) but if a defensive back touches the receiver- illegal contact, pull a jersey-pass interference, hits too hard – defenseless receiver 15 yards.

I now would have put the money into Andy Levitre or would attempt to draft or gain the best free agent offensive lineman in football and get blue chip receivers, tight ends.  I hope the NFL doesn’t think this arena style football is that great to watch.  It’s irritating to know that it’s this unbalanced for the defense.  The defense isn’t there to stop the offense, just slow them down until the clock runs out.

Thanks – TM

CB: I don’t debate for a second that the rules are slanted toward the offensive side of the ball, but to put the majority of your cap resources into your offense is foolish. Yes, it’s an offensive game, but that’s all the more reason to have a defense with the talent and ability to shut opponents down.

There aren’t too many one-sided teams that have won it all in the NFL. Perfect example is the 2007 Patriots. One of the most dominant offensive teams in NFL history did not win the Super Bowl. That was partly due to the fact that they were facing a team that had the defensive talent to shut them down. In the end the more balanced team won the NFL title that year.


3 – Hey Chris,
What’s up with K Dan Carpenter? Are the Bills happy enough to resign him to a longer contract or will they go with the injured rookie draft pick with the big leg next season?  Are we in for another kicker competition at SJF next summer?


CB: There’s no question that Carpenter has been rock solid for Buffalo’s kicking game. There is essentially no book on Dustin Hopkins at this level. If Carpenter could be re-signed at reasonable money I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of him competing with Hopkins at next year’s training camp.


4 – Chris,

Just wondering with the bye week this week and some weaker teams coming up, do the bills look past teams like Atlanta and Jacksonville and start preparing for the patriots or the big rivalry with the dolphins? And now that E.J. is back in the grove of things is he allowed more freedom to change his plays at the line of scrimmage?

Ron G
St. Catharines, On

CB: I think any coach or player would tell you that the minute they look past the opponent they have that week is the time when you lose a game you’re not supposed. The level of importance for each game in a 16-game schedule is so high that no team, coach or player can afford to look past any opponent.


5 – Hey Chris,

I have recently been reading a couple of your responses to fan posts about the possibility of adding a big (or taller) receiver to our WR corps. which brings me to a question. If we need a big receiver why didn’t we keep one of the two that we had in David Nelson or Brandon Kaufmann? Nelson wasn’t a great receiver but had proven to be useful in the red zone & has since proved to be a target for the Jets . Brandon Kaufman was talked about in the preseason to have very soft hands & he also was a taller WR that with some experience could have been put to good use in the red zone & other places.

I know that one of the WR we have now would have had to been let go more than likely & to this point TJ has been pretty inconsistent when it comes to depending on him to make the tough catches (talking prior to the last game of course) so he would have been & still would be my candidate to have let go to keep either of the 2 I have asked about especially seeing as Easley has become a ST ace .

I also know that Stevie has been fighting injury this year so his production hasn’t been that good, but if his numbers were so good at the outside position what was the reason to try him in the slot given the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” question . Because prior to this year when we had Roscoe usually the smaller WR was used in the slot & Goodwin had a very good showing in that position last week . Once again I turn to your expertise to clear up some of my questions & again I thank you for your time & what you do to keep us all informed !!

Mr. T from Fort Myers via Nashville

CB: When it comes to adding a big receiver to the roster I think that is something they are looking to develop rather than acquire via a big investment either in the draft or via free agency. Buffalo has a few “big” receivers on their practice squad and I-R. Kevin Elliott, a player I was impressed with in the spring camps, unfortunately tore his ACL, and is on I-R, but goes 6’3” 205.

Tommy Streeter (6’5” 215) and Cordell Roberson (6’4” 205) are a pair of practice squad receivers, who would add some big time size to the receiving corps.

I’m not expecting Buffalo to heavily invest in a big wideout via the draft after using 2nd and 3rd round picks this past spring.

Perhaps if some of their practice squad prospects do not develop as they hope they could sign a veteran WR with size that’s affordable.

As for Stevie’s production I blame it primarily on the very in flux situation that occurred at QB with the injuries at that position and the learning curve that EJ Manuel traveled until recently.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Hopkins couldn’t kick off

Posted by Chris Brown on October 7, 2013 – 3:37 pm

The Bills finally decided to shut down Dustin Hopkins for the season after he could not effectively deliver kickoffs in his attempted return from a groin injury.

Hopkins the past couple of weeks was kicking short field goals and extra points, but when Doug Marrone and the staff took Hopkins out to try kickoffs the leg power just wasn’t there.

“The problem was we were bringing him along, one step in kicking field goals, but the bigger issue was once we did the kickoffs, which is obviously a different type of movement, that was like, ‘Whoa,’ said Marrone. “We didn’t really know where
we were until we got to that step. The baby steps of going in and kicking an extra point, to kicking a 20-25 yard field goal, we were feeling good. But it’s a limited amount of movement, different than the kickoff.

“Once we went in there and started doing the kickoffs, we were like, ‘Wow, that movement is far behind.’ To say whether it’s a setback or not, I don’t know. We weren’t able to have that opportunity because we were trying to get him back.”

Knowing one of Hopkins greatest assets was his ability to kick touchbacks prior to the injury, the inability to do so made it hard to wait on his groin to heal any longer.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

K Hopkins to I-R

Posted by Chris Brown on October 7, 2013 – 1:09 pm

Head coach Doug Marrone made a roster move at the kicker position Monday, but it might not be the one most were expecting.

Marrone put rookie kicker Dustin Hopkins on injured reserve Monday. Hopkins has not been active the first five weeks of the regular season due to a groin injury suffered days before the season opener.

He was getting close to returning and practiced last Monday and Tuesday on a limited basis, but did not practice at all on Wednesday.

Coach Marrone said they have been unable to get Hopkins better.

Dan Carpenter has been a very effective kicker since joining the club and now will continue to do so for the remainder of the season.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Marrone: Hopkins to practice next week

Posted by Chris Brown on October 4, 2013 – 3:22 pm

He only began to practice on a limited basis last week, but rookie kicker Dustin Hopkins looks closer than ever to returning from a groin injury suffered days before the season opener. Head coach Doug Marrone gave indication that Hopkins will be fit to fully participate in practice next week.

“Hopkins we’re looking at coming back,” said Marrone Friday.

Hopkins began kicking a couple of weeks ago with athletic trainers. First, with a nerf ball, then with a less than fully inflated regulation football. He began kicking a fully inflated ball this past week attempting field goals and extra points.

The last hurdle is kickoffs, one of the main reasons the Bills made him a sixth-round draft pick.

Hopkins is expected to attempt kickoffs, which require the most leg power coming off his groin injury.

His replacement since the injury, Dan Carpenter, has performed admirably in Hopkins’ absence. The veteran kicker is 11-12 on field goal attempts for Buffalo including a 52-yarder last night and a 55-yarder in the season opener. His touchback percentage while still low by league average standards has improved the past two weeks as well.

Still, Carpenter’s leg strength pales in comparison to Hopkins, who will be a weapon that prevents returns on kickoffs. So provided Hopkins comes through the week of practice strong it’s likely that he’s kicking a week from Sunday against Cincinnati.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 10-4

Posted by Chris Brown on October 4, 2013 – 1:13 pm

Fresh off the Thursday night game here are your latest questions. Keep them coming on email at and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Hey Chris,

I really like what I’ve been seeing from the Bills lately. It’s starting to look like a great team. Can we expect Mario to play like he did against Carolina more often and when Byrd and Gilmore return how much better do you expect them to be? Lastly, I want to ask what is your biggest concern with this team going forward?

PS – I love what EJ has done but do you think he’s getting a bit overhyped it’s only been a few games, but man does it seem like this kid can keep his cool under pressure.

CB: I think Mario’s success is going to depend on the players around him up front. Provided they make plays when he draws the most attention from the opposing offensive line, it will force future opponents to pick their poison so to speak. Baltimore chose to double Kyle Williams and Mario most often in the game. As a result, Marcell Dareus saw a lot of one-on-one matchups and won more than his fair share with six tackles and a pair of sacks. As long as the guy that’s getting the one-on-one matchups is winning, the attention paid to the defensive linemen will vacillate back and forth sometimes week to week. We saw Mario get some opportunities last night even though he saw his fair share of double teams.

When Gilmore and Byrd are back in the lineup it’ll no doubt be a boost. The extent of Byrd’s role when he does return however, is up for debate. I expect him to be eased in playing in subpackages at first. Eventually he may be worked back in as a starter. Remember he hasn’t played an NFL regular season game in nine months, had no training camp and no preseason, and has only practiced Mike Pettine’s defense for a month.

As for a concern with the team, it’s the evolution of the offense. It’s going to be a process, but I think it has to be one that makes progress each week. Among the hurdles to be cleared are third down and red zone, two of the most important requirements to be a top offense in the league.

EJ has had his ups and downs, but overall he is making good progress. I think most people agree it’s a matter of when not if with Manuel.


2 – Chris,

Thank you for covering all the great news coming out of Buffalo. My question is in regards to the LG position. Colin Brown is certainly looking like he has had his share of problems in the first two games going against some pretty good and big DT’s in Star Lotulelei and Vince Wilfork. He also had trouble with Mizzou sensation and Rookie DT Sheldon Richardson. I have been wondering what his status is on the team? I have heard Coach say he is happy with who he has on the o-line so I doubt a change will be made. From watching the games and being there at One Bills Drive can you tell anything about Colin Brown and why he is having a hard time? Is it the competition he is going against or rooted in fundamentals and overall talent? For a man his size (6’7 325lbs) he has been a problem so far this year. Running to the left side for some nice gains would be welcoming.

Taylor – Greater St. Louis Area

CB: I think without question the Baltimore game was his best performance. In a more traditional offensive approach when they ask the offensive line to line up and smack and defensive front in the mouth, that’s what he does best. I think we do have to take into account the caliber of talent he’s been going against early this season. Wilfork – a perennial Pro Bowl player, Lotulelei – a top 10 pick, Richardson – another 1st round pick, Ngata – a perennial Pro Bowl player.

We have to remember he’s the new addition to the offensive line, so I thought before passing judgment it would be fair to give him the first month of the season to settle in. Let’s see where he takes his game from here.


3 – Hi Chris,

One of the few plays the Bills have run consistently the past couple years has been screens.  It seems getting Mr. Spiller, Mr. Jackson and a few others some breathing space was highly effective.  Unless I missed something grabbing a snack, I don’t recall the Bills running any screens these first two games.  For an offensive staff that insists it adjusts to the player’s strengths, why does it appear they have abandoned screens?

Matt from Saratoga

CB: I think part of the reason screens haven’t been used as much is because they are trying to play to the players’ strengths, meaning the offensive line. The loss of Andy Levitre limited their athleticism on the offensive line. Eric Wood and Kraig Urbik are capable of getting out on screens, but I don’t know if that’s enough to convince the offensive staff that it could be a frequent weapon for them.

Now we did see a couple of screens last night that provided some measure of success so perhaps we’ll see more moving forward.

We have to remember that Nathaniel Hackett and Doug Marrone are still feeling out the roster and finding what plays work best with their personnel in their system. The coaches have to learn what works best as much as the players have to learn what they’re being asked to execute.

Next year at this time there won’t be those questions.


4 – Hey Chris
Wondering if you could give us a projected return date (or game) for the list of inured players? I think we’re getting close to when Gilmore might return, right? How about Goodwin? Brooks? Byrd has no timetable, right?

Stephon Gilmore
Ron Brooks
Marquise Goodwin
Dustin Hopkins

We sure would be a lot better off with all of those guys on the field!

CB: Here’s an idea as to where they’re at.

Stephon Gilmore – Cincinnati is the earliest possible return, but I think it might be a week after that.
Ron Brooks – He’s closer. He’s doing straight line running now, but not cutting yet.
Marquise Goodwin – Think he has a chance this coming week. Began catching passes this past week
Dustin Hopkins – Real close, good chance to be ready for Cincy game.

5 – Chris,

We should really look at getting him, if possible, to have another good QB on our roster no?

Scott Young

CB: Doug Marrone has maintained that promoting through the practice squad is the course they usually take. Thad Lewis knows the offense and is on the practice squad. Of course Doug Whaley has said if they ever have a chance to upgrade the roster they will look to do it.

That being said Josh Freeman is a player that has some off the field concerns that need to be investigated. If those check out and he’s not looking for giant money, which is possible, then I’ve got no problem with the Bills kicking the tires on him.



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Posted in Inside the Bills

Marrone: Hopkins won’t be ready for Thurs.

Posted by Chris Brown on October 1, 2013 – 10:26 pm

Bills head coach Doug Marrone said rookie K Dustin Hopkins is working his way back from his groin injury, but he’s not all the way back yet.

“I think we’re still working on the kickoff part of it,” said Marrone. “We’re still a little bit day to day with that. As far as PATs and field goals I don’t think there’s a problem.”

Hopkins was listed as limited in practice for the first time since suffering the groin injury prior to the season opener.

When asked if he’d be ready for Thursday night’s game against Cleveland, Marrone simply said, “No.”

That means for the fifth consecutive game Dan Carpenter will handle the Bills kicking duties.

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Hopkins update

Posted by Chris Brown on September 16, 2013 – 4:13 pm

There was a plan to have Dustin Hopkins kick on Monday coming off his groin injury that has kept him out of the first two games of the season. Head coach Doug Marrone provided an update.

“He kicked a nerf ball today,” said Marrone. “Which is part of the progress of his rehab and it was positive.”

When asked if Hopkins suddenly finds himself in the midst of a competition with Dan Carpenter, who was 3-4 on field goals including a 55-yarder, when he’s fully healthy Marrone said he’ll make that call when the time comes.

“Right now, what we have is Dan is out there playing for us and we’re happy,” said Marrone. “He did a great job coming back on the 55-yarder, that was a big play in the game. We’re happy with that, and right now that’s all we have to play with until Hopkins comes off.  I’ll look at the decision when Hopkins comes off it.  But right now, Dan’s our kicker and he’s doing the best job, and we appreciate that.”

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Hopkins update

Posted by Chris Brown on September 13, 2013 – 1:00 pm

Here’s the update on the progress kicker Dustin Hopkins is making coming back from a groin injury.

Head coach Doug Marrone had hoped that Hopkins would be able to attempt to kick late this week, but that might not happen until Monday.

“He did not have a chance to do that (Friday),” said Marrone. “Maybe Sunday before the game, but most probably Monday.”

Dan Carpenter will handle field goals and kickoffs again this Sunday against Carolina.

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Bills injury report

Posted by Chris Brown on September 11, 2013 – 4:10 pm

Here’s a look at Buffalo’s injury report in advance of their Week 2 game against Carolina.

LP stands for limited participation in practice.

Player Pos Injury Participation   Wednesday
Jairus Byrd FS Foot LP
Stephon Gilmore CB Wrist DNP
Dustin Hopkins K Right   Groin DNP
Doug Legursky C Knee DNP
Ron Brooks DB Foot DNP
Marquise Goodwin WR Hand DNP

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Plans for Hopkins to kick late in week

Posted by Chris Brown on September 11, 2013 – 3:52 pm

Bills rookie kicker Dustin Hopkins was a non-participant again in practice on Wednesday with his groin injury, but head coach Doug Marrone said Hopkins might begin to work his way back into the practice setting late this week.

When asked if he’ll be available for Sunday’s game, Marrone indicated it was up in the air.

“I don’t know that for sure,” said Marrone. “He was out (not participating) today, but we plan on getting him out on
the field and kicking him later in the week.”

Hopkins was replaced in the lineup last week by Dan Carpenter, who will kick again this week if Hopkins doesn’t make significant progress this week.

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Carpenter’s career numbers at the Ralph

Posted by Chris Brown on September 8, 2013 – 8:35 am

Dan Carpenter will be handling kickoff duties today at Ralph Wilson Stadium in the opener against the Patriots with Dustin Hopkins sidelined with a groin injury. Here’s a look at Carpenter’s career numbers in Orchard Park.

Carpenter is 5-7 on field goal attempts for a 71.4 percent success rate. His only two misses came from 40-yards plus. He’s a perfect 8-8 on extra point attempts.

“The thought is to come in here and do what I’ve always done,” said Carpenter. “I’m going to work hard, try to get better
every day. If it comes down to the game, I’m going to try to kick them all out of the end zone and be 100-percent on field goals. That’s all I can do. That’s all I can worry about. That’s all I’m concerned about-to help this team win.”

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Hopkins update

Posted by Chris Brown on September 4, 2013 – 4:15 pm

Bills head coach Doug Marrone confirmed that Dustin Hopkins will not kick on Sunday in the team’s season opener against New England due to a strained right groin (his kicking leg side). Those duties will be handled by Dan Carpenter. As for Hopkins outlook moving forward it doesn’t sound like a long term injury, but Marrone wasn’t prepared to put a timetable on it.

“I think if it was a high level (strain) I’d be able to say he’s out for some time, but it’s not,” said Marrone. “So I think it’s going to be a condition thing. If it was a position player I’d be able to tell you a couple of days. But because he uses that leg it’s just a matter of him getting out there and swinging it.”

Hopkins will likely get treatment all week and through the weekend and will begin rehabilitation when he’s given the go ahead. If and when the athletic training staff feels he can begin kicking again he’ll try it and as long as the activity doesn’t lead to swelling or discomfort he’ll move forward in trying to return to the practice setting and eventually the game field.

The injury happened in practice on Monday.

“What happened was when I came upstairs on Monday, they said Dustin came into the training room after practice and said his leg felt different,” said Marrone. “Something didn’t feel right. And I thought, ‘Uh, here we go.’ Then the next thing I know we’re having the doc check him out and had him sent to get an MRI or x-ray, I can’t remember. The next thing I know they came back and said he has a strain in his right groin.”

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Hopkins won’t kick Sunday

Posted by Chris Brown on September 4, 2013 – 1:56 pm

The Bills were relatively healthy at practice Wednesday missing a pair of players with long term injuries in Stephon Gilmore and Doug Legursky. K Dustin Hopkins was the only addition and he’ll be inactive this weekend.

Hopkins has a right groin strain and will not kick on Sunday according to head coach Doug Marrone. New signee Dan Carpenter will handle all kicking duties Sunday in the opener.

Posted in Inside the Bills

Carpenter unfazed by kicking in Buffalo weather

Posted by johnmurphyshow on September 3, 2013 – 8:45 pm

New Bills kicker Dan Carpenter spent the first five years of his NFL career playing his home games in sunny South Florida. But he’s not with the Dolphins anymore.

Carpenter was added to the Bills roster Tuesday to kick in place of rookie Dustin Hopkins, who reportedly suffered an injury in practice Monday. In an appearance on The John Murphy Show Tuesday night, Carpenter says he’s aware of Buffalo’s reputation as a tough place to kick. But he’s not worried.

“I’ve heard horror stories, but that’s true with any stadium, except for indoor ones,” Carpenter said. “It will be a fun ride.”

Carpenter is a native of Montana and kicked at the University of Montana. So he says he’s played in plenty of snow games during his college career, and he got used to the elements playing at Buffalo, New England, and the Jets in the AFC East.

He admits weather can be a factor, but Carpenter told host John Murphy the bigger factor for him, is the type of field underfoot.

“When you’re playing for a warm weather team, you do look towards the end of the schedule, those December game, and take a peek,” he said. “Especially at my position, I like to look at not just weather, but field conditions, do they play on turf or natural grass? By the end of the year, will it be torn up or not?”

The entire radio interview with Dan Carpenter is available here

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Posted in Inside the Bills
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