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Bills punters Jon Ryan, Colton Schmidt 'fighting for their careers'

Jon Ryan met Stephen Hauschka for dinner Tuesday night, his first in Buffalo after signing with the Bills earlier in the day.

It was just like old times.

The punter and kicker had helped the Seahawks win Super Bowl XLVIII against the Broncos in February 2015, with Hauschka notably throwing a touchdown on a fake field goal in the NFC Championship Game, sparking a come-from-behind, overtime victory against the Packers.

Now, suddenly, they share a locker room once again. How long that lasts hasn't been determined.

"It's kind of a nine-day tryout, I guess," Ryan said after practice Wednesday. "Things happen pretty quick in this league, and you've just got to be prepared."

Ryan, who spent 10 of his 12 NFL seasons in Seattle, six of them as Hauschka's holder on field goals, signed a one-year contract after being released by the Seahawks on Monday. The timing was fortuitous for Buffalo, which lost former practice squad punter Cory Carter to a torn ACL in Friday's preseason game against the Browns.

Ryan, 36, has just two preseason games to try to beat the incumbent, Colton Schmidt, for a spot on the Bills' 53-man roster. Schmidt, 27, has served as Buffalo's punter the last four seasons. He is entering the final year of his contract.

"I love both of them but I also feel for both of them, because they're fighting for their careers," Hauschka said. "That's their job, and so one of them is going to have a job — and hopefully both of them have a job come this season — but it's just, to be a part of that (competition), it's very interesting. It's a unique job that we have. I love both of them, and whatever is best for this team is what I support."

Ryan and Schmidt produced similar statistics last season.

Ryan averaged 45 yards per punt and downed 29 of 92 punts inside the 20-yard line.

Schmidt averaged 44.7 yards per punt and downed 28 of 79 inside the 20.

Before Wednesday's practice, Bills coach Sean McDermott described Carter's injury and Ryan's extensive NFL experience and relationship with Hauschka as reasons for signing him.

"He's been through a number of NFL seasons," McDermott said. "Obviously, he's familiar with Stephen and they've built up a relationship over the years. That's also important, especially this time in camp. He's going to go out there today and put his best foot forward and we'll just see where it goes."

Ryan had two years remaining on a four-year, $10 million contract with the Seahawks. But earlier this year, he offered critical remarks toward Seattle general manager John Schneider after the team traded up to pick former Texas punter Michael Dickson in the fifth round of the draft.

"If you let me, I'm going to compete ... harder than you've ever seen," Ryan said at the time. "I love you. I have so much respect for you. But one way or the other, I'm going to make you look really dumb."

On Wednesday, Ryan described his release from the Seahawks as a mutual decision.

"The writing was on the wall," Ryan said. "It was pretty clear what was going to happen at that point, and I wanted to get a little bit of a head start on it and find an opportunity, and I was lucky enough to do so."

Ryan noted that it's easier for a specialist to adjust to a new team than it is for nearly any other players.

"I think it's definitely the easiest for a kicker, snapper, punter," he said. "We don't have a big playbook or to learn a lot of terminology or anything like that. We just kind of have our skill set and we can take it wherever."

Ryan also described his limited playing experience in Buffalo. He played here once as a member of the Packers in 2006. The only other time he faced the Bills on the road was in 2012, but the game was in Toronto. He dismissed the notorious weather conditions at New Era Field as "just something you have to deal with" and "not a big deal."

"It is an adjustment," Hauschka said. "The weather here is more of a factor, and there was weather in Seattle, too. But the weather here, it's windier and it gets colder in the winter, and it's definitely more of a factor. That being said, I view it as a bigger opportunity for home-field advantage. So that's what I like about it, because other kickers come here and they see that it's difficult and I think it gives us an advantage. He's played here once. But Jon's played in a lot of conditions. He's played in a lot of stadiums in the league. He's a great punter."

Ryan said he's thankful the Bills called soon after his release.

He isn't planning on being cut again.

"It means a lot," Ryan said about being granted another opportunity to play. "To be with one team for as long as I was and then getting released, it's a weird feeling. And I was very fortunate to be picked up as quickly as I was by a team and an organization like this. It's really an honor."

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