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 rans fourth in the NFL, while his 264 points is 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.”
As Ryan alluded to, 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’s 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.”