Friday, November 18, 2011

Dolphins work out three kickers amid Carpenter concerns

Miami Dolphins placekicker Dan Carpenter reportedly participated in practice Friday morning and has not been on the team's injury report this week, but there appears to be concern over his availability for Sunday's game against the Bills.

NFL.com's Jason La Canfora reports the team worked out free agent kickers Shayne Graham, Rhys Lloyd, and Jeff Reed today. As La Canfora put it on Twitter, “Teams don’t work out Ks on a Fri unless something is up with their guy.”

Enjoying his fourth season as the Dolphins' placekicker after going undrafted out of Montana in 2008, Carpenter has converted 18-of-22 field goal attempts (81.8 percent) and all 14 extra-point attempts on the season while also obliterating his single-season touchback record thanks to the NFL's new kickoff rules.

If Carpenter cannot go Sunday, the Dolphins will likely sign one of the three veterans they brought in today. And while all three have NFL experience, it will certainly put pressure on the Dolphins' shaky offense, as well as on holder Brandon Fields and long snapper John Denney.

Graham, 33, went undrafted out of Virginia Tech in 2000 and bounced around the league for three season before establishing himself as the Bengals' placekicker from 2003 to 2009. He has since resumed his status as a journeyman, attending camp with the Ravens in 2010, serving as an injury fill-in for the Giants and Patriots (converting all 12 attempt in New England) that season, and spending time with both the Redskins and Cowboys this summer. For his career, he has a field-goal percentage of 86 on 242 attempts, but he has not played a full season since 2009.

Undrafted out of Minnesota in 2005, the 29-year-old Lloyd spent offseason time with the Ravens and Packers before finding success in NFL Europa in 2007. He had another brief stint with the Ravens that year before spending the next three seasons as a kickoff specialist for the Panthers. He attended camp with the Giants in 2011 before being waived during final cuts.

The eccentric Reed was undrafted out of North Carolina in 2002 and had a brief stint with the Saints prior to a nine-year stint as the Steelers' field-goal kicker. He converted 81.9 percent of his 259 attempts with the Steelers, earning two Super Bowl rings in wins over the Seahawks and Cardinals. An eccentric personality with some off-field troubles, the Steelers released Reed nine games into the 2010 season after he had converted just 68.2 percent of his field-goal attempts. He finished the season going 9-of-10 with the 49ers and was poised to be the Seahawks' kicker in 2011 before being replaced by Steven Hauschka just before the season.

Graham and Reed seem like the best choices, as Lloyd doesn't have a regular season field-goal attempt to his name. Both Graham and Lloyd have had their ups and downs, but have loads of NFL experience and both had a lot of success in short stints with teams last season.

Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano is likely to update his placekicker's status this afternoon, but it's certainly concerning that the team is looking at free agent kickers so late in the week and it'll be something to watch this Sunday against Buffalo regardless of whether or not Carpenter is out there.


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