|Punter Brian Moorman's release took the players by surprise. The 12-year vet has signed with Dallas. (US Presswire)|
The release of punter Brian Moorman was a hot topic in Buffalo's locker room Wednesday one day after the veteran was released in a surprise move. Moorman was replaced by rookie Shawn Powell, who spent the offseason with the Bills.
“Definitely I think the whole locker room was shocked in terms of that going down after three games and him being here for 12 years,” QB Ryan Fitzpatrick said. “His locker was right next to mine. He's a guy the last four years I've really gotten a chance to know well, I talked to him a little bit yesterday but he's the kind of the guy that he's going to get picked up somewhere very quickly and we wish him all the best.”
Moorman got off to one of the slowest starts of his career this season with a net average of 32.7 yards per punt, prompting his release. But he didn't have to wait very long to find a new team. He signed a one-year deal with the Dallas Cowboys late Wednesday afternoon.
“It is strange,” K Rian Lindell said. “We have meetings today and you know, he wasn't next to me. It's kind of like that that movie with Matt Damon, Stuck on [you], where they finally cut them [apart]. I didn't have somebody to lean on over there. But that's how the game is.”
For Fitzpatrick, it was just the latest reminder of the cold reality that is the NFL.
“Yeah, it is -- that's the first thing I thought,” Fitzpatrick said. “It's just a reminder, it's a very fickle business. That's the NFL. Every year there's one or two reminders of it, close friends, guys you thought were untouchable essentially end up getting cut or released or traded. It's a constant reminder.”
Powell, meanwhile, knows he has a difficult task ahead of him in replacing such a beloved player. Moorman holds nearly every Buffalo punting record and is considered the team's best punter in franchise history.
“Oh, definitely -- Moorman's been here a long time and I'm very grateful for the opportunity I've been given,” Powell said. “They saw something and I came here to help our team win. ... if I can have half the career that Moorman's had, it'll be successful. He was a role model to me when I was here, helped me out to get better and I'm grateful.”
Powell said he was quite surprised to get the call from the Bills when he did.
“When they called me, I didn't really think anything of it,” Powell said. “I thought, this was the end of his contract next year and I thought they were just bringing me in to make sure I was still losing weight and still kicking and on top of my game, just to keep tabs. It was a total surprise and a shock to me, I had absolutely not the slightest idea.”
New holder for kicks: In addition to punting, Moorman also served as the team's holder on field goals and extra points. Coach Chan Gailey said Wednesday that Powell will be the long-term answer there, but backup QB Tyler Thigpen is a candidate on a short-term basis. Powell has experience as a holder from his time at Florida State. “I held in college for Dustin Hopkins,” Powell said. “[Rian] Lindell likes it a different way. He likes it tilted a little up front and to the side. I think that'll [take] me about a week of taking snaps. I took about 50 snaps today just catching and placing. Give me about week or so and it will be all worked out.”
McKelvin misses practice: CB Leodis McKelvin was a surprise non-participant at practice. He was officially listed with a groin injury. WR Ruvell Martin (ankle) also sat out, along with RB C.J. Spiller (shoulder).
For more updates on the Bills, follow correspondent Mark Ludwiczak on Twitter @CBSBills and @MarkLud12