Matt Araiza won’t punt for Buffalo Bills in preseason finale vs. Carolina Panthers

Buffalo Bills rookie punter Matt Araiza, who was accused in a lawsuit Thursday of raping a 17-year-old girl while he was at San Diego State last year, will not dress for Friday’s preseason game against the Carolina Panthers , sources told ESPN’s Adam with Schefter.

Team kicker Tyler Bass and long snapper Reid Ferguson ran onto the field minutes before the announcement. Araiza, in particular, was absent, despite traveling to Charlotte, North Carolina for the game.

Araiza is the only punter on the team’s roster after the Bills named him the starter with Monday’s release of punter Matt Haack. Bass and backup quarterback Matt Barkley were spotted practicing punts before Friday’s game. Safety Micah Hyde and backup quarterback Case Keenum both warmed up as backup holders.

The lawsuit, filed in San Diego County Superior Court and obtained by ESPN, alleges rape, gender-based violence and false imprisonment by Araiza and two of his former San Diego State teammates.

According to the lawsuit, Araiza, who was 21 at the time, had sex with the then high school senior, who was underage in California, outside at an off-campus party that took place at his apartment in the early hours of October 17, 2021. The Lawsuit states that Araiza took her to a room where there were at least three other men, including two other men named in the lawsuit, Zavier Leonard, a redshirt newcomer to the Aztecs, and Nowlin Ewaliko, who was a freshman last season but is no longer on the list.

Araiza’s criminal defense attorney Kerry Armstrong told ESPN that Araiza only disclosed the allegations to the Bills in early June, when the Los Angeles Times reported that rape allegations against five Aztec football players had not been investigated by San Diego State. The university said this was based on a request from the San Diego Police Department that the school do nothing to interfere with a police investigation into the incident.

The Bills released a statement Thursday night, explaining that they were “recently made aware of an October 2021 civil lawsuit filed against Matt. Due to the seriousness of the complaint, we have thoroughly investigated this matter. As this is an ongoing civil proceeding, we will not comment further at this point.”

Araiza was selected by the Bills in the sixth round of the 2022 NFL draft after playing three seasons at San Diego State. Matt Araiza won’t punt for Buffalo Bills in preseason finale vs. Carolina Panthers

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