Following the publication of alarming claims this week, the Buffalo Bills have made their initial decision about punter Matt Araiza. After a civil lawsuit was filed against Araiza and two of his former San Diego State teammates for allegedly raping a 17-year-old girl at a house party last year, Buffalo chose not to play Araiza, the team’s only punter, in Friday night’s preseason game against the Carolina Panthers.
Bills coach Sean McDermott has said that he was the one who decided to bench Araiza. When asked if Araiza will remain with the Bills, McDermott said the organization is “trying to do what’s right.”
— TheBillsWire (@TheBillsWire) August 27, 2022
McDermott said, through NFL Network, that it was “just awful to go through.” “Neither I nor any of my colleagues are taking this lightly. Clearly, there is more to be done if we are going to get to the bottom of this.”
There was reportedly no number plate on the locker that would have been Araiza’s between kicker Tyler Bass and long snapper Reid Ferguson, as reported by the Buffalo News. Due to Araiza’s injury, the Bills turned to their backup quarterback Matt Barkley to handle punting. He averaged 40 yards per punt across four tries, with his longest punt going for 33 yards.
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) August 26, 2022
Araiza is charged with repeatedly raping a high school senior he had sex with at an off-campus party. Zavier Leonard, a redshirt freshman for the Aztecs, and Nowlin Ewaliko, a freshman for the Aztecs in 2017 who is not currently listed on the roster, are the two other males cited in the claim.
Kerry Armstrong, Araiza’s attorney, told the Los Angeles Times that the rape allegation is baseless and that his investigator spoke to witnesses from the party who told a different account than the woman.
It’s a shakedown, Armstrong added, because “he’s now with the Buffalo Bills.” Without a shadow of a doubt, “Matt Araiza [never] raped that girl.”
This week, the Bills punting duties were given to rookie Araiza instead of the seasoned veteran Matt Haack. The Indianapolis Colts wasted no time in claiming the former punter off waivers, so he could get back to work.
It will be interesting to see what the Bills decide to do with Araiza moving forward. It’s possible that Buffalo’s future can be seen in the call that was made on Friday.
The Buffalo Bills have signed Barkley to a contract. Due to an injury to Josh Allen, it was reported on November 11 that he would start for the Bills against the New York Jets. Buffalo ended a four-game losing slide with a 41-10 victory over the New York Jets on Sunday.
Barkley threw for 232 yards and two touchdowns in his first NFL start in almost two years. Barkley signed a contract extension with the Bills on December 21, 2018, that would keep him in Buffalo through the 2020 season.
Following Josh Allen’s in-game head injury in Week 4 of the 2019 season, Barkley entered the game as a substitute for the New York Jets. He threw for 127 yards and an interception, and his team lost by a score of 16-10. In his lone previous action, he came in relief of Allen in a 13-6 defeat to the New York Jets in Week 17. He completed 16-of-32 passes for 232 yards and two interceptions.
Barkley played in five regular-season games for the 2020 NFL season and tossed his first touchdown throw since the 2018 season, a 56-yard completion to wide receiver Gabriel Davis, in the season finale against the Miami Dolphins. At the end of the regular season, Barkley had a passer rating of 74.3 and completed 11 of 21 passes for 197 yards, a touchdown, and an interception.
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