Browns

The Browns Already Miss Phil Dawson, But Departure Not All Their Fault

By DARYL RUITER, 92.3 The Fan Browns Beat Reporter
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Kicker Phil Dawson / (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

Kicker Phil Dawson / (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

DarylRuiter_300 Daryl Ruiter
Cleveland Browns beat writer and member of the Pro Football Writers of...
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BEREA (92.3 The Fan) – Where have you gone Phil Dawson?

The moment that Dawson signed with the San Francisco 49ers it was apparent that he would be missed at some point this year.

But raise your hand if you thought it’d be with a week before the season begins.

Veteran Shayne Graham and rookie Brandon Bogotay were vying for the unenviable task of replacing him.

Saturday, the Browns chose neither of them.

“We gauged all the practices, the preseason games and weren’t completely satisfied,” Browns coach Rob Chudzinski said. “From a [roster] timing standpoint, keeping some other guys and being flexible in that way we felt was the best move at this particular time.”

And so the tryouts will begin.

“We have some possibilities,” Chudzinski said. “We may work some guys out in the next few days. We’ll have a kicker within the next few days. I’m not concerned.”

“There’s a number of veterans out there. We may work some of those guys out.”

Veterans Dan Carpenter and Billy Cundiff, both cut by the Jets, are available. Cundiff filled in for Dawson in 2009 when he was sidelined with a calf injury.

It’d be easy to rip CEO Joe Banner or general manager Michael Lombardi for Dawson’s departure – some already have – but the reality is that Dawson was not coming back.

Contrary to popular belief, the last 2 seasons that saw the Browns franchise Dawson, former general manager Tom Heckert never offered him a long term contract despite Heckert’s public assertions that they did.

It never happened.

Dawson, who had been Mr. Reliable for 14 seasons en route to becoming the second-leading scorer in franchise history, was beyond miffed.

Couple in yet another regime change this offseason, there was no need for him to stay while waiting and hoping that the Browns would finally become legitimate contenders after 14 seasons.

Instead, Dawson signed with the defensing NFC champions.

It’s hard to blame him.

Graham was 3-of-3 on field goals this preseason, even making a 50-yarder, but sat out the preseason finale with a stiff back.

Bogotay missed the final 2 preseason games due to a groin injury.

Chudzinski downplayed any concern of needing to find a kicker with just 1 week until they kick off the regular season against Miami for a simple reason – they are plug and play from his point of view.

“In places I’ve been before we’ve had different kickers throughout the course of the season,” Chudzinski said. “It’s probably the one position where a guy can come in. It’s unique in that way. There’s not a lot of interaction with teammates and getting to learn systems. It’s pretty much an individualized skill. I’m not concerned about it. Between the pool that’s there and the guys that have been here, we’ll find the guy that we need.”

Punter Spencer Lanning filled in during the preseason finale and went 2 for 3 – missing from 41 but hit from 32 and 40 in the 18-16 win over the Bears.

Don’t expect Lanning to get a shot at double duty.

“No, although he did a nice job the other night,” Chudzinski said. “It’s good to know he’s a possible backup, but I would not expect that.”

And so the Browns are now without a kicker.

The only position of consistent production since the team returned in 1999.

Unfortunately, following Saturday’s roster moves, the Browns need a whole lot more than just a kicker.

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