Only five games into the 2013 NFL season, the Buffalo Bills coaching staff saw enough of Shawn Powell's struggles to know they needed to move in a different direction. The Bills announced they have released the second-year punter from Florida State on Friday morning, less than 24 hours after Powell had a miserable performance in prime time against the Cleveland Browns.
According to Buffalo News columnist Tim Graham, Powell's "brutal" stretch of games—including last night's 179 return yards and a touchdown given up to Travis Benjamin—was the last straw for a struggling punt coverage unit. Graham said in his Friday morning column Press Coverage that a co-worker timed a Powell punt that was in the air for less than three seconds.
In other words, Powell’s inconsistencies were becoming too much for the Bills to overcome.
While Benjamin’s long touchdown return was from being only Powell’s fault, the former Seminole’s short hang-times on Thursday night certainly contributed to the Bills’ coverage woes. The touchdown is only one of the factors that could have potentially led to the punter’s release.
Powell ranked 32nd in net average, with a poor 35.2 mark. For the sake of comparison, Atlanta’s Matt Bosher leads the league in that category with a 45.2 average. Powell easily leads all punters in return yardage against because of last night’s 179-yard performance by Benjamin, but the NFL sophomore had the sixth worst numbers in that category entering the Browns game.
He also has not kept the ball out of the end zone either. Powell has booted a league-high five punts into the end zone for touchbacks.
For the second time in a year, Buffalo will host tryouts for a new punter after a game with the Browns.
Buffalo has a little time to figure out the issue on special teams with a 10-day break leading up to a game with the Cincinnati Bengals at Ralph Wilson Stadium.