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Bills' Corey Bojorquez will get shot to make punting impression in Detroit

Corey Bojorquez is enjoying the NFL preseason a lot more than last year.

As a rookie with the New England Patriots in 2018, Bojorquez dressed for all four exhibition games but didn’t get to boot one punt. The Patriots widely were perceived as trying to keep Bojorquez under the radar so they could stash him on their practice squad after he was cut.

The Buffalo Bills, of course, picked him up, and he punted the first eight games last year before going on the injured-reserve list.

“It’s fun to get out there this year and get to play, get that experience,” Bojorquez said after Wednesday’s practice. “I think preseason is a good time to work through some things and try some different techniques maybe to see how it helps in a game.”

Bojorquez is getting a full shot to show his ability this summer, and Friday likely will be his biggest opportunity yet in the Bills’ third preseason game, at Detroit.

His competition for the punting job, Cory Carter, is out of the game due to a sore knee.

Presuming the Bills’ offense doesn’t score every time it gets the ball, this is Bojorquez’s chance to put his best foot forward.

“It’s just something to take advantage of right now,” Bojorquez said. “I want to pick it up from where I left off in the Carolina game and keep trying to do the best I can to help the team.”

The 22-year-old Bojorquez could use a good game. Carter arguably was a tad more consistent in training camp practices, and Carter had been operating as the holder the past 10 days for place-kicker Stephen Hauschka, a sign he was ahead in the punting race.

Carter also punted better than Bojorquez in the exhibition opener against Indianapolis. But Bojorquez had a superb punt in his lone boot last week at Carolina. He boomed it 53 yards with a 4.86-second hang time (4.5 or better is good).

Will the Bills be comfortable handing their punting job to a young guy, whether it’s Bojorquez or Carter? The jury is out. There will be veteran options available to them after the NFL cuts are made.

New England already cut its punter of the past six seasons, Ryan Allen, in favor of a rookie who it drafted in the fifth round (Jake Bailey). Allen beat out Bojorquez on the Pats’ squad last year. (Allen ranked 20th in the NFL in net average last season; Bojorquez was 21st. Both had 45.1 gross averages.)

Bills special teams coach Heath Farwell said the final two exhibitions matter a lot for his units, including the punters.

“They’re both showing a lot of positives and have gotten better,” Farwell said of the punters. “I think that’s the most important, they have improved every day. There are certain things we need to work on, but I think we like where we’re at, they’re doing good. We still have two games left. Let’s see what it looks like in two weeks. Let’s see how they hold up Friday night and then of course the following Thursday. Those are really two big games for those guys.”

Bojorquez feels good about his kicking this summer.

“Training camp went really well,” he said. “The first game was a little bit of a struggle, trying to get back in the swing of things. But I worked on some stuff last week before the Carolina game, and I’m feeling a lot better. So I’m excited to get out there this week.”

The challenge for any young punter is to prove his consistency. Bojorquez said getting the exact same drop on the ball, especially when it’s windy, is the key factor.

“If you’re off by an inch or an inch and a half, it’s a completely different punt,” he said. “That’s the difference between a good hit and a shank. So I just try to get the drop in the same exact spot every single time.”

There’s no doubt Bojorquez has the athleticism and leg speed to be an effective NFL punter. He doesn’t need to try to overpower the ball.

“When you hit it a really good 50-, 55-yard punt that you didn’t really swing on, sometimes guys will say if I just give it a little more I could hit it 10, 15 yards farther,” he said. “It’s good to keep in mind you don’t have to keep pushing it too much. If you’re hitting a 50-yard fair catch, there’s no reason to try to do more than that. That’s when you can get inconsistent.”

Another plus Bojorquez has is he’s left-footed, which causes the ball to spin in the direction less familiar to return men. Bojorquez is right-handed. But his left foot always has been the more dominant kicking foot since he started playing soccer as a youngster.

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