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Matt Haack's strong start shows Bills' punter competition promises to go deep into summer


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After five practices at training camp, one thing is clear about the Buffalo Bills’ competition at punter: It’s going to come down to the wire.

Incumbent Matt Haack has shown he’s not simply going to roll over and give up his job to rookie Matt Araiza, the “Punt God” drafted in the sixth round out of San Diego State. In fact, through the first two punting sessions, Haack has arguably had a slight edge in the competition.

The Buffalo News charted Haack’s hang time during the first session, and clocked him, unofficially, at 4.97, 4.92, 4.87, 4.86 and 4.64 seconds. Araiza, meanwhile, had his first four punts clock in at less than 4 seconds of hang time, a very poor number by NFL standards. The rookie bounced back, though, by showing off his leg strength with a punt of 70-plus yards that had a better unofficial hang time of 4.44 seconds. On the second day of punting, Haack had two full-field punts with at least 4.5 seconds of hang time, and three good Aussie-style punts near the goal line. Araiza was busier, punting nine times, including one with a hang time of 4.84 seconds and five quality Aussie attempts.

“I hope that whether it’s training camp or even Week 8 of the season, I’m pushing to have that type of competition whether it’s a 90-man roster or a 53-man roster because nobody’s ever safe,” Bills special teams coordinator Matthew Smiley said. “Even though it depends on how things sort out day to day and how the roster looks day to day, my emphasis is always to push that level of competition, so it doesn’t feel different for the guys.”

Haack, who entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent with the Miami Dolphins, has been through a competition before.

“I can’t worry about what anyone else is doing,” he said. “I’ve got to focus on my job and doing better than what I did the day before; what I did last year or the year before. So, it’s all about getting better each day and putting my best foot forward.”

He can be excused for that pun.

Smiley said Haack’s approach to the competition has been what’s impressed him most.

“I’ve been so impressed with the way he’s carried himself as a man through the course of this competition, the spring and camp,” he said. “He’s been punting the ball well these first two times, but he is not shying away from interacting with Matt Araiza. There’s been a good camaraderie in that room with all four guys. There have been times when Matt Araiza has asked Matt Haack questions, and Matt Haack has helped him out and talked to him about different details of trying to be a player in the NFL. I can’t speak enough to the type of human being it takes to know you are fighting for your job and you’re still willing to do the right thing when it comes to interacting with somebody.”

Haack chalked that up to being “pretty friendly.”

“If somebody asks me a question, I’ll answer it to the best of my ability and help people if they need it,” he said. “I think we can all learn from each other, honestly. Maybe I see something he does that I like and I’ll pick it up or something. So to me, as of right now, we’re on the same team. So, we want to win today, and if we can help each other out, help each other out.”

“I think it just shows his character,” Araiza said of Haack. “A lot of people would rather just mind their own business, try and win the job. But the fact that he's an open book and I can go ask him questions, I think is a huge help to me.”

Araiza entered training camp as the slight favorite to win the job as a drafted rookie, but to assume the position is automatically is a mistake. A strong first week of camp has shown Haack won’t go down without a fight.

“Yeah, I mean I feel good,” he said. “I feel like I come in every year to camp feeling great. Obviously focusing on hang time, focusing on consistency, turning footballs over, hitting spirals. The hang time piece is just giving my guys around me a chance to make a play. So, I mean that’s always been a focus of mine since I started punting in college.”

Haack spent almost the entire offseason in Buffalo, working out in the Bills’ facility. He resumed his punting routine after the season while the snow was still flying.

“I think when you first start punting again in the offseason, you’re kind of just getting your base groundwork back, your muscle memory, tempo, all that stuff back,” he said. “But it is good just to feel uncomfortable out there in the offseason, so when it does come to the season, you’ve been through that before, and it’s not new.”

Araiza, meanwhile, is still in the process of adjusting to life in the NFL. He joked Friday that there have been more fans at some of the Bills’ camp practices than at his home games during his senior year of college.

As for how he’s handled the outsized expectations that come with having a nickname like “The Punt God,” he said a lot of that has been driven by fans on social media.

“I was the fourth specialist drafted and I believe I'm the only one that's still competing for a job,” he said. “So for me this year is more about proving people wrong than proving people right. I don't feel a great burden to go out there and prove people right. I'm trying to prove that I was the best specialist in the draft.”

Smiley said Araiza is off to a good start in that regard.

“I think he has been doing a phenomenal job of focusing on what he’s responsible for day in day out,” he said. “There’s no difference working with him or working in years past when I’ve gotten to work with undrafted guys that have come in and maybe just as a camp leg. So there’s no difference with the interaction at all. It’s a process for him as he transitions from college to the NFL, just like all the rest of the guys, it’s different. So he’s working through that transition, but he’s doing a heck of a job paying attention to what he’s supposed to be doing and making sure he’s working to get better.”

“There he goes. One of God's own prototypes.

A high-powered mutant of some kind, never even considered for mass production.

Too weird to live, and too rare to die.”

 

Twitter: @HKTheResistance

 

HipKat, on *** other h***, is genuine, unapoli***tically nasty, and w**** his hea** on his ******. jc856

I’ll just forward them to Bridgett. comssvet11

Seek help. soflabillsfan

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20 hours ago, Herodotus said:

I am sorry, but I cannot stomach the idea of him remaining as our punter.  In a way he is responsible for 13 seconds, because I don't think that game ends like that played at Rich Stadium and that blocked punt of his cost us a very winnable game.

Whoa that’s a lot of dot connecting there lol. I could pick 763 other plays that season that ultimately could be responsible for 13 seconds. But yes the dude blows ASS. But if Punt God can’t hold on kicks we are fucked. And asking a dude to do something he’s never done…with games on the line….and in some cases bad weather…I shudder at the thought. 

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3 hours ago, seandelevan said:

Whoa that’s a lot of dot connecting there lol. I could pick 763 other plays that season that ultimately could be responsible for 13 seconds. But yes the dude blows ASS. But if Punt God can’t hold on kicks we are fucked. And asking a dude to do something he’s never done…with games on the line….and in some cases bad weather…I shudder at the thought. 

Yeah, well that fuck up against Pittsburgh and the total team fail (and I am serious, every member of the franchise from the Pegulas down to the guy who washes the jockstraps earned that loss) that was whatever the fuck that fiasco in Jacksonville was cost us a Superbowl.

 

I'll pardon the Titans loss because the Travis Henry bastard who made into the league is a phenomenal weapon when healthy and I will pardon the Pats and Colts losses because the Colts had that game circled all year and the Palpatine Hoodie is gonna Palpatine Hoodie, but losing to the Steelers and Jaguars? Are ya fucking kidding me?

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55 minutes ago, Herodotus said:

Yeah, well that fuck up against Pittsburgh and the total team fail (and I am serious, every member of the franchise from the Pegulas down to the guy who washes the jockstraps earned that loss) that was whatever the fuck that fiasco in Jacksonville was cost us a Superbowl.

 

I'll pardon the Titans loss because the Travis Henry bastard who made into the league is a phenomenal weapon when healthy and I will pardon the Pats and Colts losses because the Colts had that game circled all year and the Palpatine Hoodie is gonna Palpatine Hoodie, but losing to the Steelers and Jaguars? Are ya fucking kidding me?

Agree 1000% 

I made a thread immediately after the Jags loss that 

and yet made another one later on in the season LOL

 

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Damn 

looking back at threads I created around the time of the Jags loss I stumbled on some posts I made that became pretty prophetic….shit like: 

Allen is a one man offense 

Bills d line is trash 

McDermott in over his head 

Bills defense not good against good offenses 

Strong pass rush won’t beat Mahomes 

Bills D doesn’t make big plays

 

of course I was told to shut the fuck up and told I didn’t know what I was talking about….on things that ultimately DOOMED them against the Chiefs. I hate being right sometimes. FUCK

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14 minutes ago, Very Wide Right said:

They should sign Jacob Schum, local guy that punted for Tampa and Green bay until he was injured. He's 100% now ready to go.

Jake was injured in training camp in Green Bay because the dimwit trainer had him doing push pull drills with a freakin linebacker. IDIOT.

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this is similar to Bass v. Haushka.     Go with the booming stronger young leg and live with some growing pains.   The holding for kicks is an issue that must be certified though. 

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Sin is nothing to celebrate, have pride in, or hold parades for. The rainbow is a symbol of promise not a symbol of depravity.

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9 hours ago, miamibillsnut said:

this is similar to Bass v. Haushka.     Go with the booming stronger young leg and live with some growing pains.   The holding for kicks is an issue that must be certified though. 

Yup.

Do Your Part to Improve The Range -- Please put the TRIO OF TRUMP FLUFFERSTM  on IGNORE

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12 hours ago, miamibillsnut said:

this is similar to Bass v. Haushka.     Go with the booming stronger young leg and live with some growing pains.   The holding for kicks is an issue that must be certified though. 

Not quite, Hauschka was an established NFL kicker. Haak, well the name says it all. With that said, may the best man win.

Crowded elevators smell different to midgets............

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28 minutes ago, TheMachinist said:

They're going to pick whoever holds the ball better for Bass. Just watch.

Hell, if it comes to that I'd be working Barkley or Keenum out as a holder.  I'm ready to move on from Haack.  :niterider:

 

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2 hours ago, TheMachinist said:

They're going to pick whoever holds the ball better for Bass. Just watch.

This…

McConservative is not going to take the risk…I’d be pleasantly stunned if he takes the unknown commodity that could potentially costs us several FGs and XPs and in this league and in a super bowl or bust season every fucking point matters over some shanks. 
 

Best solution? Never fucking punt.

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2 hours ago, TheMachinist said:

They're going to pick whoever holds the ball better for Bass. Just watch.

Latest report is Araiza was holding well and Bass was 100% on those kicks. His prob is hangtime consistency. Plus he played in San Diego [St.] and don't think he's seen snow & bad weather. I'm not even sure he experienced swirling winds in the stadium.

By the way, what is Aussie punting, with the ball held side-to-side across the kicking foot, or just punting end over end for the extra bouncing yards?

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