It was shaping up as the positional battle of the summer.
No, not the fight to win the No. 6 wide receiver position or the starting outside cornerback role opposite Tre’Davious White. The punter’s duel, or as Buffalo Bills beat reporter Joe Buscaglia nicknamed the battle, the #CoreyVsCoryPuntapalooza.
With one week remaining in the preseason, #CoreyVsCoryPuntapalooza never truly materialized, as the team released Cory Carter on Monday, leaving Corey Bojorquez as the sole punter on the roster.
Carter’s release presents a major opportunity for Bojorquez, who failed to win the job through the first two games but did put together a solid performance in Week 3’s win over the Detroit Lions while Carter was out with an aching knee. Bojorquez averaged 47.2 yards per punt on five kicks, landing one inside the 20 against the Lions.
It was a much better showing than in Week 1 vs. the Indianapolis Colts, when Bojorquez followed up a booming 51-yard punt with a 35-yard shank and a 34-yard shank.
So far this preseason, Bojorquez has punted nine times (net average of 41.2 yards per punt) with one boot inside the 20, while Carter netted 40.5 yards on his four punts before being released.
“He is still competing. He understands that and I like what he did yesterday. We put him in a situation where he had to execute at a high level and I thought he did a good job with that,” head coach Sean McDermott said of Bojorquez during his Tuesday press conference. “I did like some of the balls he kicked later in the game this past week against Detroit. Situational balls where we were pooch punting and then we were backed up so he had some good situational experience there. We have to continue to find consistency at this point.”
Perhaps the Bills will look to a recently released punter like Ryan Allen, who was cut by the New England Patriots but has consistently been ranked among the middle of the pack for net yardage. Last year, Allen, a three-time Super Bowl champion, ranked 16th in average yards per punt (45.1), and was 19th in average net yards per punt (39.5). Allen also put on a punting show in the Super Bowl, averaging 43 yards per punt with three punts inside the 20 on his five boots.
Besides Allen, the team could sign veteran Donnie Jones, formerly of the Los Angeles Chargers. Jones ranked 32nd among punters in average yards per punt last year (42.3), and was 31st in net punting (38.0). Only three of his punts went for touchbacks last year, with nearly 32 percent of his punts traveling inside the 20.
Buffalo could also opt to sign a punter who gets cut when NFL rosters are trimmed down to 53. Of course, Bojorquez could take the lead and potentially win the job if he punts well during the preseason finale Thursday night, when the Bills welcome the Minnesota Vikings to New Era Field for a 7 p.m. game.