Matt Smiley gives update on camp battles for Buffalo Bills special teams

Matt Araiza, Buffalo Bills (Photo by Joshua Bessex/Getty Images)
Matt Araiza, Buffalo Bills (Photo by Joshua Bessex/Getty Images) /

One group that has a number of position battles at training camp this year for the Buffalo Bills is special teams. The Bills not only have one position battle at punter but also are looking for a player to step in as the team’s returners on kickoffs and punts.

On Friday, special teams coordinator spoke with the media about what they are looking for in both positions and what could be the deciding factor.

Battle at punter will come down to punting

Last year, the Bills made a switch at punter by not bringing back Corey Bojorquez and instead elected to sign Matt Haack to a three-year deal. Unfortunately, Haack finished near the bottom of the league in most punting categories. Hence, the Buffalo Bills drafted Matt Araiza in the sixth round this year to compete for that spot.

The challenge is that in addition to being the punter, this person will also be the primary holder; this is where Haack has an advantage. General manager Brandon Beane described Haack as an elite holder for Tyler Bass.

While this will be a big part, the ultimate determining factor still seems to be the player who punts better, according to Smiley.

Matt Araiza certainly has the stronger leg but this battle will likely not be decided until after the preseason games.

Ball security key for whoever wins the returner jobs for the Buffalo Bills

The Buffalo Bills will also be looking for someone to step up as the team’s returner, and this could mean splitting the duties between two players with one as the primary punt returner and one returning kickoffs. However, the ideal situation would be for one player to handle both.

Smiley was asked about this position battle and it could come down to ball security.

Last year, this was something that Isaiah McKenzie and Marquez Stevenson struggled with and the coaching staff continued to try to find a solution, like using Micah Hyde at times.

In this training camp, Stevenson likely will be competing for that spot but with McKenzie stepping in as the potential number one slot receiver, he may not. If he is not competing for it, Tavon Austin is a player to watch as he was signed last month and has experience doing both.