It’s not the most talked about competition for the Buffalo Bills.
But it’s still pretty competitive.
Incumbent punter Shawn Powell and free-agent Brian Stahovich have been challenging each other for the starting punter position throughout OTAs and mandatory mini-camp. According to buffalobills.com, the race is surprisingly tight and will continue into training camp.
“In this business everywhere you go there’s going to be stiff competition,” Powell told buffalobills.com.
Last season, Powell displayed a powerful leg, kicking long punts with high hang times. He averaged 44 yards a punt and kicked 23 punts inside the 20-yard-line.
Stahovich, meanwhile, faced off against Indianapolis Colts punter Pat McAfee during the Colt’s camp. Stahovich, according to the Bills’ website, has impressed coaches with his accuracy and consistency.
“I learned a lot from both Pat and Adam Vinatieri last year at Indianapolis,” Stahovich said. “One of the biggest things that you realize is there’s always going to be competition. It’s the best 32, and if you’re 33 you’re sitting at home on the couch. There’s always going to be someone coming after you, so pretty much your entire career is competing each year for your spot.”
Besides battling each other, both punters will also have to show team officials they can kick in the chaotic, Buffalo weather. Powell was the Bills’ punter during three December home games, while Stahovich has experience with some tricky weather from his college years.
“I knew coming into it that when you come to Buffalo you can expect wind, so I kind of put it in my mind that it was something I have to deal with and if I don’t deal with it I won’t be here,” Powell told buffalobills.com. “It’s one of those things where I made myself get better at it. When I came in I knew the wind was going to be a difficult thing for me because I’ve never really played in a lot of wind. I’ve played in some cold places, but not really windy. Having the one year in Buffalo really helped and it’s just about continuing to grow and get it down.”
For now, both punters are trying to show they are the right person for the job.
“You just have to do your thing every day and punt your game,” said Stahovich. “At the end of the day if I’m the best or he’s the best or they bring in somebody else, as long as you did all you could and left everything out on the field then you can walk away from it.”
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