September 1, 2012 in Sports

NFL veteran Lindell dreams of shot at playoffs

By The Spokesman-Review
 
Associated Press photo

Former Washington State kicker Rian Lindell, center, wants to finally get the Buffalo Bills into the NFL playoffs.
(Full-size photo)

Rian Lindell has a long list of accomplishments on his 12-year NFL resume, but the former Washington State University kicker wants more.

He wants what many western New Yorkers want: the Buffalo Bills to return to the playoffs and end a 12-year drought, longest in the NFL. It’s why he re-signed with the Bills for four years. It’s why the Washington native lives year-round in Buffalo, where he’s set to begin his 10th season.

“It’s a bit like a college team for me,” Lindell said. “You’ve grown up with it and seen the changes and you feel more part of it as opposed to coming in halfway through a season. You feel like you’re part of the team and the community and it’s nice to be able to play for your favorite team.

“Seattle will always have a place in my heart but being around here has definitely grown on me. It would be pretty special to get over that hump. This place would be pretty wild.”

Lindell joined the Seahawks roughly a month into the 2000 season following the release of Kris Heppner. After three seasons, he moved on to Buffalo, where his 83-percent field-goal accuracy is a franchise record and his 735 points is second only to Steve Christie’s 1,011.

Lindell has missed only one PAT in 363 attempts, impressive considering some of those attempts have been booted in challenging weather conditions at Ralph Wilson Stadium. His lone miss was a blocked PAT in 2010.

“It can be (tough), but it helps with FieldTurf,” he said. “Some places have grass that gets chewed up pretty quickly. I’ve always had (punter) Brian Moorman, he’s a great holder. If you hit your line, it’s rare it won’t go through (the uprights). It’s the ones that flutter; the wind beats up on those. It’s very similar to golf.”

Lindell missed the last half of the 2011 season after breaking a bone in his shoulder while making a touchdown-saving tackle on a Jets’ kick returner. He’s fully healed, and he probably doesn’t have to worry about making any more tackles. The Bills drafted John Potter, who figures to handle kickoffs.

“They told me when they re-signed me, ‘You’re the field-goal guy, we’ll see how he does with kickoffs,’” Lindell said. “He (Potter) kills it. I’ve never seen anything like it. If he was a baseball player, he’d be throwing 104 (mph) or something.”

Lindell has adjusted his training methods over the years to make sure his leg is ready on Sundays. He puts more emphasis on warming up, stretching and post-practice cool-downs. He’s smarter about the volume of kicks necessary to remain sharp. Form and timing take on added importance.

Lindell refers to fellow Cougar Jason Hanson, now in his 21st season with Detroit, “as the standard. He just hits a clean ball every time. It’s fun to watch him. We always play them in preseason. In pre-game (last week) he missed one and I don’t think I’d ever seen him miss. Every one is so clean, same rotation.”

Lindell, 35, has never been on a playoff team and he’s never made the Pro Bowl.

“Team-wise, I’d love to play in a Super Bowl and I’d like to go to a Pro Bowl. I’d like to make that trip to Hawaii,” he said. “You think (playoffs) every year, but certainly this year guys are buying in as much as I’ve seen around here and the community is certainly fired up, for good reason.”

EWU notes

Michael Roos has started every game in his first seven seasons with the Titans. His streak of 112 consecutive starts trails Detroit’s Jeff Backus (176) for longest among offensive tackles. The Titans have allowed 168 sacks during Roos’ seven years, third lowest in the NFL. … Oakland’s Taiwan Jones is listed as second-string running back behind Darren McFadden. Mike Goodson, older brother of ex-Gonzaga point guard Demetri Goodson, is third team. Jones ran for 73 yards on 16 carries as a rookie. … Isaiah Trufant, a third-team defensive back with the Jets, returned a blocked punt for a touchdown against Dallas last September. He also simulated Philadelphia quarterback Michael Vick in practice prior to a December game against the Eagles.

UI notes

San Francisco guard Mike Iupati has started all 34 games in his first two seasons. … Shiloh Keo, listed as a back-up safety with Houston, had four tackles and returned one punt for 11 yards last season. … Eddie Williams, on injured-reserve with Cleveland, played in three games with the Browns and three games with the Seahawks in 2011. … T.J. Conley fended off two challengers to retain the Jets’ punting job. He averaged 42.7 yards (38.8 net) on 92 punts last season. … Aaron Lavarias (New England) and Korey Toomer (Seattle) were released Friday. … Reggie Jones, who played at Idaho before transferring to Portland State, was cut Friday, one day after fumbling a punt in Minnesota’s preseason finale.

WSU notes

Detroit’s Hanson owns the NFL record for most games played with one team (310). He’s also the first player in NFL history with 50 50-yard field goals. …. Detroit’s Erik Coleman missed 12 games last year with an ankle injury, but he returned this season in great shape and eight pounds lighter at 207 pounds. … Saints starting fullback Jed Collins had 15 touches last season (11 receptions, four rushes) and produced four touchdowns. … Detroit placed Jerome Harrison on the reserve/non-football injury list in May, meaning he won’t be able to play this season. The Lions dealt Harrison to Philadelphia last year, but Eagles doctors discovered a brain tumor in Harrison that nullified a trade.


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