Buffalo Bills kicker Dan Carpenter struggled last season missing six extra points and converting a middling 85.2% of his field goals. His job still seems secure deep into this offseason after taking a pay cut and receiving a vote of confidence from head coach Rex Ryan. Last week, Ryan spoke to BuffaloBills.com:
"I think he looks good," said Ryan of Carpenter's OTA performance. "There will be competition, there's two guys competing, but we feel pretty good about him. Last year, he made just about every field goal. He's obviously a proven kicker in this league, and I think coming back a year after the injury is really going to help him."
As a point of reference, Ryan cited his former kicker with the New York Jets, Nick Folk. Folk made the Pro Bowl as a rookie with the Dallas Cowboys, but an injury caused his performance to drop off a cliff, and he soon found his way to the scrap heap. The Jets signed him and while he never quite set the league on fire, he did finish fifth in the league in scoring in 2010 and has made over 30 field goals in three of his five full seasons with the Jets.
Even with his drop in production, Carpenter's field goal percentage last season tops all but two of Folk's nine seasons in the league. If he can bounce back and approach his production from his first two seasons with the Bills, the calls for his head should subside. Given that the other kickers on the roster are kickoff specialist John Gay and undrafted free agent Marshall Morgan of Georgia, who is a long shot to make the roster even by undrafted kicker standards, it's likely that Carpenter is still going to be the Bills' kicker when the preseason starts up.