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Kicking job is settled, but it's open competition for backup quarterback

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PITTSFORD -- If 2013 sixth-round draft pick Dustin Hopkins is to stick with the Buffalo Bills this season, it will be as a kickoff specialist only.

That was the word from coach Doug Marrone after the team finished up its third practice of training camp this morning at St. John Fisher College. That means the kicking job belongs to Dan Carpenter, who has followed up a rock-solid 2013 season with a a similarly strong start to camp.

Carpenter went 7 of 8 on field goals during a steamy morning session, starting by hitting from 32 yards away and working his way back to 51 yards out. His lone miss came from 37 yards. So far in camp, he's 15 of 16 on field goals. Last season, Carpenter finished tied for the single-season franchise record with 33 made field goals, and was rewarded in the offseason with a four-year contract that could be worth nearly $10 million.

Hopkins, who spent last season on injured reserve, will continue to try and convince the coaching staff it's worth keeping two kickers. The last time the Bills tried that was in 2012 under former coach Chan Gailey. John Potter, however, played just six games for the team before Gailey pulled the plug on the experiment.

While one competition is over, another might be just heating up. Jeff Tuel received some reps with the second team during today's practice, and Marrone declared the backup quarterback job behind EJ Manuel to be there for the taking between Tuel and Thad Lewis.

"We’re trying to find out who it’s going to be and Jeff did a nice job in OTAs and he’s earned himself some more reps," Marrone said.

  • Polish Prince

    The Bills should let Hopkins go and find another linebacker.

    If Hopkins is good enough he will get a kicking job somewhere in the NFL.

    Carpenter earned the job .

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About the reporters

Vic Carucci returned to The Buffalo News as a Bills beat reporter in September. Carucci covered the Bills for 17 years before joining NFL.com as a columnist in 1999. Prior to rejoining The News, he spent three years as a senior editor for the Cleveland Browns.

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida.