With training camp now officially open, I’m re-examining the State of the Buffalo Bills’ roster, going position-by-position.
Here’s an in-depth look at the specialists:
- Stephen Hauschka
- Tyler Bass
- Corey Bojorquez
- Kaare Vedvik
- Reid Ferguson
Hauschka had a rough start to last season, but finished strong. Over the first nine games, he was only 8-for-13 on field goal attempts and also missed an extra point. Over the final seven games, he was 14-for-15 on field goals. The Bills actually put in a waiver claim on kicker Chase McLaughlin in early December after he was waived by the San Francisco 49ers, but the Indianapolis Colts had a higher waiver priority and were awarded McLaughlin, who was with the Bills during training camp. So it’s clear the Bills were at least looking to bring in some competition for Hauschka, who had a nice bounce-back second half. His leg doesn’t seem to have the strength it did even just a couple years ago. After going 7-for-9 on field goals of 50-yards or more in 2017, he’s only 5-for-12 over the last two years, including only 1-for-5 last season.
Bass was one of only three kickers selected in the 2020 NFL Draft, taken in the sixth round by the Bills. He was only the seventh kicker drafted by the team since 1970 and the first since 2013. So, given how rare it is to take a kicker and the fact the Bills invested a sixth round pick in him, Bass should get every opportunity to show off his leg. Bass finished his collegiate career at Georgia Southern 54-of-68 on field goal attempts, with a 98.3% extra point conversion rate, including going a perfect 81-for-81 over his last two seasons. Bass also drilled 27 field goals from 40-or-more yards over the last three seasons, which was the most in the FBS, according to ESPN Stats and Info.
Bojorquez was inconsistent last year. There were times he did a great job of pinning teams inside their own 20-yard line or cutting the ball though a really tough then-New Era Field wind, but other times he didn’t get the job done when the team needed him. Bojorquez finished tied for third in the NFL with 34 punts downed inside the opponent’s 20-yard line, but was 30th in both gross punting average (41.9) and net punting average (37.7).
The Bills signed Vedvik to a future/reserve contract right after last season ended. Vedvik, who is originally from Norway, has a tremendously strong leg and can be both a punter and place kicker. General manager Brandon Beane said his first position is punter, but his second is a guy who can kickoff and attempt longer field goals. While with the Baltimore Ravens last preseason, he went 4-for-4 on field goals, including a 55-yarder. But on opening day with the New York Jets against the Bills last season, he missed a field goal and an extra point. He was waived the next day. Vedvik punted 129 times over two seasons at Marshall, including a 44.0-yard gross average in 2017.
Long snappers don’t get noticed until they do something wrong, and Ferguson wasn’t noticed last season. He totaled 140 total punt, field goal, and extra points snaps and didn’t register a single bad snap. He’s the only long snapper on the roster and under contract for two more seasons. He’s also the second-longest tenured Bills player behind only defensive end Jerry Hughes. Ferguson and Hughes are also the only two Bills who were on the roster prior to Sean McDermott’s arrival as head coach.
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