Inside The Bills

Bills entire specialist lineup from FSU

Posted by Chris Brown on August 20, 2013 – 7:38 am

With Dustin Hopkins winning the Bills kicking job their entire roster of specialists hail from Florida State University.

Long snapper Garrison Sanborn, punter and holder Shawn Powell and Hopkins are all FSU alums.

“I’m not sure in history if that’s ever happened before, but it’s clearly representing the university. To be proud of what you’ve done and how many people that we’ve put in the league as far as specialists. Given the fact that Florida State is known for their negative special teams plays, but now we have a snapper, a punter and three kickers in the league now. That’s kind of
funny how people view the kicking game at FSU.”

The other Florida State kickers in the NFL are Sebastian Janikowski in Oakland and Graham Gano in Carolina.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Powell a big help for Hopkins

Posted by Chris Brown on August 20, 2013 – 6:00 am

With Dustin Hopkins winning the kicking job following the release of Rian Lindell, the rookie kicker was quick to thank punter and holder Shawn Powell. Hopkins had Powell as his holder at Florida State for three seasons, so coming to kick in Buffalo proved to be an advantage for him. What Hopkins didn’t know is when he had an issue with accuracy it was Powell that was trying to correct it for him.

“Having Shawn for three years and having him aware of how I like the ball to lean, he’s actually helped me out a lot,” Hopkins said. “When I first came in I had a more drastic lean and without me knowing he was giving me more of a straight up ball and that’s when I started to get in a groove.

We noticed that on film and saw that. So I figured if I’m hitting a clean ball like this let’s just stick with this. So he’s helped me through that situation without even me knowing about it. He kind of did it and we’ve decided to stick with it.”

Hopkins was hooking field goal attempts to the left in the spring practices, but those steadily went away in training camp and Powell’s adjusted holds helped account for that.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Powell’s leg strength simply superior

Posted by Chris Brown on August 13, 2013 – 8:13 am

It’s not all about leg strength when it comes to punting in the NFL, but when you have it there’s no question it helps. Shawn Powell possesses that gift and once he married it with some consistency it made his main competition Brain Stahovich expendable.

Stahovich, who was released Tuesday, was a capable punter, and relatively consistent, but he just could not match the physical power of Powell’s kicking. So the punter competition is the first one that comes to a conclusion at training camp among the position battles.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

5 performances you might’ve missed

Posted by Chris Brown on August 12, 2013 – 11:54 am

There were a number of quality individual performances in Buffalo’s first preseason game that made the highlight reel, but there were some that flew under the radar Sunday. Here’s a look at some of the better play turned in by some players you might not have noticed watching the game live.

Crezdon Butler – The cornerback was noticed on his second quarter interception off a tipped pass by Manny Lawson that led to a Bills field goal, but Butler had two other pass breakups in the game to lead the team with three. Those other two both came on third downs. One was on a 3rd-and-6 play at the Bills 26, which forced the Colts to settle for a FG. The other was on a 3rd-and-5 at the Colts 13, which forced a punt. He also had a third down tackle on a 3rd-and-2 bringing down Nate Palmer for no gain to force another punt. A really nice effort for the corner that’s been running with the second unit.

Jarron Gilbert – The reserve defensive lineman wasn’t dominant, but turned in a few plays that helped the defense get off the field. He had a quarterback pressure on a 3rd-and-5 that led to a Colts punt. Gilbert also had a tackle for loss on a pass to Colts back Kerwynn Williams out of the backfield dropping him for a loss of two. He had a pass breakup to his credit too.

Shawn Powell – Powell, who was coming off his best practice of camp, punted very well Sunday. He only kicked twice, but boomed a 55-yarder to the Indianapolis 15. Accomplished return man T.Y. Hilton unfortunately had a 15-yard return on the play. His other punt from his own 28 he launched out of bounds at the Colts 26 on a 46-yard effort. His best work however, may have come on his holds as he had to reach outside his body frame to get a couple of field goal snaps down in time for the kick attempts.

Nickell Robey – Robey had just a couple of tackles on defense holding receivers short of moving the sticks on both, but more importantly he proved himself capable as a punt returner. He looked elusive on his three return attempts. He had a long of just 14 yards, but he averaged 11.7 yards a return and made coverage players miss. Anytime a punter can average better than a first down (10 yards) you’re considered very productive.

DeMarco Sampson – Sampson got 28 snaps, but only 15 were pass plays. He had four receptions for 49 yards late in the game. Three of his catches went for first downs. He also drew a pass interference penalty that gave the Bills a first down on a third-quarter TD drive.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Powell has good day, Stahovich not far off

Posted by Chris Brown on July 29, 2013 – 9:05 pm

Bills incumbent punter Shawn Powell had a good day at Monday’s practice, the first in which there were specific punting segments during the special teams periods of practice.

Powell and his challenger Brian Stahovich were both punting for distance more than hang time as they tried to reach the end zone from their own 35-yard line. Powell was more consistent driving the ball for distance on Monday. On most kicks he also had superior hang time, not that it carried as much weight as when special teams coordinator Danny Crossman has them hang 40-yarders to let the coverage unit run underneath it. That’s when hang time counts most.

Today’s exercise was one in leg strength and distance.

Now Powell did have one shank in his series of attempts and Stahovich mis-hit two of his kicks.

Stahovich did finish strong as three of his best punts were among his last four attempts. He drove the ball for distance and got three of the longest hang times between them on my watch (unofficial of course). He had a 4.56, 4.64 and 4.53 on three of his last four kicks.

Powell at 6’4″ and 243 pounds has superior size and what appears to be a stronger leg than Stahovich (5’11” 197). But Stahovich made it clear in practice Monday that he’s not going away quietly.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Powell thankful for battle with Moorman

Posted by Chris Brown on July 4, 2013 – 9:03 am

As we profiled with the beginning of our daily Top 25 questions until Training Camp on today, the punter competition figures to be even stiffer than it was last summer. Brian Moorman edged out then rookie Shawn Powell at the start of the season, but Powell got a call back a month later. Now the shoe is on the other foot for Powell, who as the incumbent has free agent Brian Stahovich breathing down his neck.

Powell believes the competition he had with Moorman served him well in preparation for the current competition he’ll face in training camp.

“There are going to be good punters out there. In this business everywhere you go there’s going to be stiff competition,” Powell said. “With Brian, it really helped me with the competitive edge and being able to understand what competition is all about.”

Of course Stahovich gained similar experience competing in Colts training camp last season, only to lose out in a battle with Indianapolis incumbent punter Pat McAfee.

Powell appears to have the ability to kick with superior hang time, but he’ll have to do it consistently to beat out a quality candidate in Stahovich. This very quietly is shaping up to be a very entertaining competition.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Punters update

Posted by Chris Brown on June 13, 2013 – 9:34 am

The Bills punters were in action at minicamp Wednesday and Shawn Powell may have had his best day this spring.

Powell began the special teams segment with two booming punts, both of which had unofficial hang times of five seconds (an elite figure). First-year punter Brian Stahovich has proven to be formidable competition through the spring, so Powell will be pushed.

Both punters got 8-10 attempts during the segment. Powell’s average hang times were better overall, again unofficial, but Stahovich has put together some good sessions through the spring practices.

Granted a punter competition might not be the most exciting news in the world, but this will be a very open competition and figures to come down to preseason performance in August.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

K Hopkins plans to re-connect w/FSU holder

Posted by Chris Brown on May 6, 2013 – 1:43 pm

Bills sixth-round pick Dustin Hopkins was probably one of the happier kickers to be drafted by the Buffalo Bills. Most don’t want to endure the process of getting acclimated to the windy conditions that Buffalo typically dishes out from November to January. But there was a reason Hopkins didn’t mind.

His college holder is the incumbent Bills punter in Shawn Powell, who was his holder for three seasons. Hopkins has already spoken to Powell by phone. Having a holder that knows just how you like the ball held right off the bat can be a calming influence on a kicker trying to start his NFL career.

“I talked to him right after I got picked up and we talked for a little bit and I talked to him on Monday this past week too,” Hopkins told “We didn’t talk about kicking really. I was just talking about life in general and how Buffalo is. I’m sure I’ll remind him when I get there plenty. We’ll re-orient ourselves.”

Long snapper Garrison Sanborn is also a Florida State alum. If Hopkins were to win the kicking job for the Bills the entire field goal operation could very well be entirely made up of FSU alums.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Bills new punter has strong leg

Posted by Chris Brown on April 18, 2013 – 5:16 pm

Bills newest punter Brian Stahovich was one of five tryout players that signed a contract with the Bills following the team’s three-day voluntary veteran minicamp. Stahovich certainly earned that contract with an impressive three days of punting.

Stahovich, a San Diego State product, was booming kicks in the Bills Healthy Zone Fieldhouse during the three practice sessions. Unofficially had his hang times consistently between 4.6 and 4.9 seconds.

In practice he did have a mis-hit ball or two where hang time and direction were not ideal. He also isn’t lightning quick from catch to kick, but there is potential in the two-time Mountain West Conference 1st team punter (2010, 2011). There is natural leg strength there. His intangibles check out well as he’s been described as a dedicated player.

He’ll serve as legitimate competition for Bills incumbent punter Shawn Powell.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Powell ties Bills mark

Posted by Chris Brown on November 16, 2012 – 9:50 am

Rookie punter Shawn Powell tied a Bills mark with his performance Thursday night.

Powell tied a Bills record with five punts inside the Dolphins 20-yard line. His best was clearly the one late in the fourth quarter that went out of bounds at the Miami one-yard line.

“When I hit it, and I knew it was up there, I was like, ‘Alright, he’s probably going to fair catch this one.’  And that’s really all I could ask for is a fair catch,” Powell said. “You saw what he was doing to us, he bounced it  to the outside and we just have a great coverage team to get him, but I didn’t want to give him that chance.  I saw him run away from it, and I was like, OK, let’s see if we can get a good bounce on it.  I looked up, and I hit it straight in the air, and at first I thought it was going to go from the inside of the pylon out (of bounds).  Obviously it didn’t.  It was a real good feeling.  A real good feeling.”

Powell’s net punting average for the game was an impressive 40.9 yards on seven punts.

Posted in Inside the Bills

Tuesday John Murphy Show

Posted by johnmurphyshow on October 2, 2012 – 5:12 pm

Rookie Shawn Powell made his NFL debut last Sunday against the Patriots and did pretty well.  Tonight, he joins us on The John Murphy Show at 7:20pm to talk about his game, and his route to the Bills.

At 8pm, we’ll be live on the air with author Kevin Cook.  He’s written a new book “The Last Headbangers, NFL Football in the Rowdy, Reckless ’70s.”   It’s a pretty good read–lots of stories about the Super Bowl Steelers and the great Miami Dolphins teams of that era.   The Bills of the O.J. Simpson era figure prominently in the book, and there are great stories about the beginning of Monday Night Football, and a memorable night for Howard Cosell in Orchard Park.

The Buffalo Bills Rookie Club made a field trip to the Museum of Science today, to check out their Science of Sports interactive exhibit.  The President and CEO of the Museum, Mark Mortenson, joins us at 820pm to talk about the exhibit.

And Hannah Buehler of will be with us at 845pm to talk about the Bills in the community.

The John Murphy Show airs weeknights from 7pm-9pm on the flagship station of the Bills, WGR Sports Radio 550.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Powell gets plenty of work in debut

Posted by johnmurphyshow on September 30, 2012 – 7:04 pm

Bills rookie punter Shawn Powell was a busy man on his first day as an NFL punter.  Signed by the Bills five days ago, Powell punted five times for Buffalo.  He finished with a good net average of 41.8 yards and hit two of his five punts out of bounds.  The Patriots were only able to return one of Powell’s boots.

“I had two pretty good ones,” Powell said after the game, “one that Wes Welker ran down the sideline a little bit, and one out of bounds.  Then I had the poor last one.  I lifted my head up a little bit, got excited, tried to watch the ball, and that’s what happened.  If you tried to hit a golf ball without looking at it, that’s what happens, you don’t know where its going to go.”

Powell’s last punt only went 28 yards at the end of the third quarter.

The rookie from FSU admitted he was nervous going into his first NFL game.

“After the first one.   I’m lucky I got an Aussie kick on the first one.  But after that, I think the nerves really kind of went away, and I just tried to settle in to do the job.  After that I think I did pretty well.”

Posted in Inside the Bills

Who is holding on kicks?

Posted by Chris Brown on September 26, 2012 – 3:31 pm

With Brian Moorman’s release Tuesday, Shawn Powell is his obvious replacement as the punter, but what about the holding job for field goals and extra points? Head coach Chan Gailey addressed those duties Wednesday.

“Shawn will practice there,” said Gailey. “Tyler (Thigpen) will practice there. We’ll see as it goes. Eventually Shawn will do it as soon as he gets some experience.”

So it sounds like in a big division game, they’re likely to use Thigpen as the holder this week with Powell soon to be handed full time duties as time goes on.

Meanwhile Lindell addressed the mechanics of the holding job as it relates to him.

“Brian knew exactly, kickers kind of nod their heads sometimes as if to say, ‘Yeah I’m ready,’ and Brian knew when I was ready to go,” said Lindell. “That’s one of the things, just how to tilt the ball, how I like the ball tilted. I try to simplify and so we’ll work on the timing of it all.

“We’ll work with Shawn and we’ll work with other people that would step forward. We’ll work hard and we’ll get it done.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills

The John Murphy Show for Tuesday

Posted by johnmurphyshow on September 25, 2012 – 6:17 pm

Lots to talk about tonight on The John Murphy Show.  We’ll start right off with GM Buddy Nix’s news conference on today’s release of punter Brian Moorman.  Buddy talks a lot about the team’s new punter, Shawn Powell as well as Moorman, and the reasons for making the change.

At 7:20pm, Lackawanna’s own Ron Jaworski joins us live on the line.  We’ll ask Jaws about his view of the referee lockout and where the NFL goes from here.  We”ll also get his take on the Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Bills RB Fred Jackson joins us at 8pm to talk about his recovery from his knee injury, and his chances of playing on Sunday against New England.

And Olympic Gold Medalist Jenn Suhr of Western New York will be live with us at 8:20pm.  She’s getting ready to be “The Leader of the Charge” at Ralph Wilson Stadium this Sunday.  And she’s also going to pole vault inside the Fieldhouse before kickoff.

As always, we’ll take your phone calls and comments at 7:45 and 8:45pm.

The John Murphy Show airs weeknights from 7pm-9pm on the flagship station of the Buffalo Bills, WGR Sports Radio 550.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Moorman, Powell: the decision

Posted by Chris Brown on September 25, 2012 – 5:49 pm

Brian Moorman beat out rookie Shawn Powell for the punter’s job on final cutdown day in early September, but one might wonder just how close the battle was now that Powell has replaced him for that very same job just three and a half weeks later. Buddy Nix addressed that very issue Tuesday afternoon.

“At that time we thought we made the right move and today we felt we did,” said Nix, who chose not to get into the specifics of the decision. “It’s no reflection on Brian, he’s done a great job here. It’s just… we’re moving on.”

The upside of Powell may have been too difficult for Buffalo’s decision makers to ignore. Nix and his personnel staff often focus on adding players to their roster that they believe are on the ascent. Powell was a player the Bills actually considered drafting late this past spring let alone bring in as an undrafted free agent.

Nix did not say whether Powell would handle holding duties this Sunday on field goal attempts, saying that will be up to Chan and his coaching staff to decide. Moorman had been Rian Lindell’s holder.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

What you need to know about Powell

Posted by Chris Brown on September 25, 2012 – 3:51 pm

Shawn Powell was signed by the Bills as an undrafted rookie last spring and provided good competition for veteran Brian Moorman, who he replaced on the roster Tuesday. The book on him is simply that he has a big leg.

Part of the reason is Powell is built more like a tight end than a punter at 6’4″ and 248 pounds. In the preseason games this past summer he had 14 punts for the Bills. Five were downed inside the 20 and four others were fair catches, speaking to Powell’s hang time ability.

His stats were respectable in the preseason with a 44.8 gross average and a very good 40.4 net average in four games.

He’ll be stepping into a pretty big game this Sunday when Buffalo hosts New England in a pivotal AFC East game.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Jets try out 2 recently release Bills

Posted by Chris Brown on September 4, 2012 – 10:00 pm

The Jets tried out a pair of former Bills players that were released in the cut down to 53 last Friday.

According to’s Rich Cimini, New York tried out P Shawn Powell and WR Derek Hagan. Though conspiracy theorists will claim it’s an effort to get a feel for the Bills’ plans for Sunday’s game, this looks pretty legit.

Powell has talent and the Jets have punter issues after clipping T.J. Conley earlier Tuesday. Their receivers coach Sanjay Lal also has familiarity with Hagan, having coached him in Oakland.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 8-10

Posted by Chris Brown on August 10, 2012 – 11:30 am

Well preseason game number one is in the books. Just another four days of camp and the team returns to One Bills Drive. Let’s get to your questions from and @ChrisBrownBills on twitter.

1 – Chris,
I was wondering what kind if influence an improved defense would have on the offensive play calling?  If (IF) this bill’s defense can live up to its billing, will Fitzpatrick need to throw as much?

CB: I asked both Chan Gailey and Ryan Fitzpatrick this very question a while back. Both indicated that when you’re playing with a lead more often there’s less of a need to take risks. Here’s exactly what they had to say about your question.

“You have a football team,” said Gailey. “You don’t have an offense, a defense and special teams. You have a football team and the objective is to win the game. So you’re always adjusting to what the situation in the game is and if we’re in closer ball games and we have leads you do change your thought process and the way you approach the game. And it allows Fitz to alter the way he approaches the game a little bit. We’ve got to continue to work that because we’ve not been in that situation in the last couple of years.”

I think it allows you to limit the risks you take,” said Fitzpatrick. “I think if you’re in games all the time and not falling behind whether it’s from a poor performance early from the offense or whatever it is, you certainly have to be a smarter and more reserved quarterback. With our offense there are going to be times where we take chances because that’s what makes us good as well. But there’s a balance we have to find there in terms of when we’re taking those chances and when to take the checkdown.”


2 – Hey Chris,

Thanks for your daily articles and updates.  I had a question about offensive tackle based on your latest article.  A lot of scouts seem to believe that both Glenn and Hairston could be great RT’s.  So why is there only competition at LT?  I think Pears played well last year at RT and I’m glad we have him, but I think he still has plenty to prove.  It’s not like he’s an All-Pro, but it seems like he’s just being handed the RT job without having to compete for it.  Why shouldn’t the loser of the LT competition be considered for the starting spot on the right side?  Isn’t it possible that Glenn and Hairston could be the two best OT’s on the team?

Denver, CO

CB: It’s my opinion that Erik Pears had a very good season last year from start to finish. He was a much stronger player after spending an offseason in Buffalo’s conditioning program and put on 20 pounds. His play was rewarded with a three-year contract extension.

Right now he’s working back from a groin strain in camp, so Hairston has been forced to line up on the right side. I think part of the reason RT has been Pears job and his job only (before injury) is because he played very consistently last season and is a veteran presence on what is a pretty young line.

I’m not saying at some point the player that finishes second in the LT competition can’t be the team’s starting right tackle, but I think there’s value in continuity as well and keeping Pears at RT knowing he can do the job is viewed as the best idea by the staff moving forward (provided he’s healthy).


3 – Hey Chris,

My question is who are going to be the backups in the secondary? Where do you see Bryan Scott? Do you see much from Searcy? There was a lot of talk about him when the Bills drafted him but hadn’t heard much.


bigfoot21 here is sunny South Carolina.


CB: Bryan Scott is a linebacker in the nickel packages and that’s really the extent of his role. Da’Norris Searcy as we’ve mentioned several times in our daily Practice Notes reports has been getting time with the starting unit rotating in for both George Wilson and Jairus Byrd. I think the staff wants to try to find a role for him presumably in a subpackage (nickel, dime).

I think sooner rather than later Searcy will be making an impact on Buffalo’s defense. He’s been impressive in the time he’s been with the ones on the practice field. We’ll see what he can do in the preseason.


4 – Hi Chris, thanks for all the information through the years. Living in San Diego, my son and I only see the Bills in enemy territory. I am trying to take him back to Buffalo to show him how a real football crowd is.

My question is does Shawn Powell or John Potter have any realistic chance making this team? Though I like the veterans, these young players look pretty good and it might be time for a change. Again thanks, Art
CB: I think Potter could make the roster as a kickoff specialist and kicker on long field goal attempts 55-yards plus. Chan Gailey has made no secret of his feelings about what kind of a weapon he believes Potter can be if he can prove that he can deliver touchbacks with regularity. He basically told me that if Potter can guarantee the opponent is starting in their own 20-yard line every time then it’s worth using a roster spot.

As for Powell I think he’s got an uphill battle. He has raw talent, but he’s not as consistent or polished as Moorman. In a year where the Bills are gunning for the playoffs you keep the guy you can count on punt in and punt out.


5 – Hi Chris, thank you for taking my question.

Is Vince Young getting the same attention from Coach Lee on his mechanics and decision making as Fitz is? And if so is he seeing any improvement in his game?

I appreciate your insight. Thanks!

– Chris Kenyon (Albany, NY)

CB: Vince Young is being schooled on the same lower body mechanics as Fitz. The same with Thigpen. A quarterbacks coach works with all of his players and David Lee is no different. Young has performed better over the past week of camp with his accuracy. Young’s arm delivery isn’t prototype, but because he’s so tall it’s a throwing motion that can work in the NFL.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Moorman vs. Powell

Posted by Chris Brown on August 2, 2012 – 9:00 am

The punter competition has kind of gone under the radar in Bills training camp. So we thought we’d shed a little light on it thus far.

Twice in the last four days rookie punter Shawn Powell and veteran Brian Moorman have squared off during punt team drills with each of them rotating in and out on punts. Below I have listed their unofficial punt hang times off my watch from both July 29th and the Aug. 1st practices.

7/29 practice
Brian Moorman – 4.8, 4.7, 4.6, 4.9, 4.8, 4.7, 4.7
Shawn Powell – 4.8, 4.8, 4.2, 3.8, 3.5, 4.9, 4.6

8/1 practice
Moorman – 4.5, 4.5, 5.0, 4.7, 4.8, 4.5, 4.2 (distance punt of 55 yards)
Powell – 4.5, 4.5, 3.4, 4.5, 4.2, 4.6, 4.8

Adding all the hang times together and averaging them out Moorman has been the more consistent punter with an average hang time of 4.67 seconds. Powell’s average is 4.36.


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Posted in Inside the Bills
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