On the list of concerns the Buffalo Bills had before the start of training camp, kicker Dan Carpenter was nowhere to be found.
Carpenter’s success rate of 90.5 percent over the past two seasons ranks fourth in the NFL, while his 264 points rank sixth.
Carpenter, however, is now on that list of concerns after a shaky start to the preseason that has featured a pair of missed field goals and one missed extra point from the new distance of 33 yards.
“I am concerned,” Bills coach Rex Ryan admitted Tuesday. “That is concerning because he missed a lot of camp. We have to see him kick better. Quite honestly, he needs to.
“We’re the only team in the league that keeps a kickoff specialist. With that being said, you do that to make sure you’re giving your kicker a chance to focus on one thing and that’s field goals.”
Carpenter missed the start of training camp with a groin injury. He admitted Tuesday that has negatively impacted his timing with long snapper Garrison Sanborn and holder Colton Schmidt.
“Just trying to get back to that mid-season form, I guess, if that’s what you want to call it,” he said. “I’m worried every day. It doesn’t matter. You’re getting compared to guys whether they’re in your camp, out of camp, in someone else’s camp, on the street, it doesn’t matter. There’s always someone out there wanting your job and you’ve got to do your job to keep it.”
Ryan’s bluntness Tuesday came as a bit of a surprise given Carpenter’s success with the Bills over the past two years. He’s converted 67 of 74 field goals and 63 of 64 extra points in that time.
“Hopefully it’s just a matter of time,” Ryan said. “We all know he’s been a big-money kicker. Not everybody can kick in our conditions, so the fact that he’s made them in those times gives you some comfort, but I don’t like seeing him miss kicks, ever.”
As the team’s release of running back Fred Jackson on Monday showed, complacency should have no place in the team’s locker room.
“You’re only as good as your next kick in this position,” Carpenter said. “If you go out and you don’t perform, it doesn’t matter what you’ve done in the past. … You’ve just got to do what you can control. I can control my kicks and what I do, so I’m going to work at that and try to get better.”
Although it was trending in that direction, Seantrel Henderson starting at right tackle was confirmed Tuesday by Ryan.
“He put his mind to it, that he wanted to be a great player,” Ryan said. “That’s how he came back. That’s how he entered camp.”
During spring practices Henderson was briefly pushed down to the third team as Cyrus Kouandjio took reps as the starting right tackle. It was a clear message to Henderson to work on his game during the time before training camp started.
“Kouandjio was pushing him and things like that, but at the end of the day Seantrel has had a tremendous training camp,” Ryan said.
Henderson, who started all 16 games as a rookie last season, committed to getting himself in good shape before the start of training camp. The 6-foot-7, 331-pounder hit his target weight and passed his conditioning test at the start of camp.
“I just had a schedule that I stuck to every day until it was time to come back,” he said. “Once we put the pads on, I was ready and it just went like that.
“I just proved I can do this every day. This is my job now. … Coming out of college last year I didn’t really know what to expect. Now I’m one year in, I know exactly what I got to do now.”
There was an encouraging sight at practice Tuesday. Cornerback Leodis McKelvin, who missed all of training camp due to an ankle injury, was out of his walking boot and at one point rode an exercise bike.
Ryan said he hadn’t yet gotten an update from head trainer Bud Carpenter after practice, but that it was a “step in the right direction, so to speak.”
Additionally, running back Karlos Williams was on the practice field for the first time since he had surgery Aug. 17. The exact nature of the surgery has not been disclosed, although Ryan has said it was in a “sensitive” area.
When he’s fully healthy, Williams is expected to compete for the No. 2 running back job that opened with Jackson’s release.
Ryan said the Bills will rest their starters in Thursday’s preseason finale against Detroit.
The Bills released linebacker Jimmy Gaines, a Buffalo native, Tuesday and also designated offensive tackle Tyson Chandler as waived/injured.
The two moves were required to make room on the 75-man roster for center Dalton Freeman and linebacker Kevin Reddick.
Freeman was claimed off waivers from the New York Jets. The 6-foot-5, 291-pound Clemson product played in all 16 games under Ryan last season in New York.
Reddick comes to the Bills off waivers from the Carolina Panthers. The 6-1, 240-pounder has played in 21 career games over two seasons, spending time with New Orleans, Carolina and San Diego. In those games, he’s made 12 special teams tackles. Reddick played in college for North Carolina.
(News Sports Reporter Tyler Dunne contributed to this report).