By Tony Grossi | ESPNCleveland.com
(One in a series of Browns Spotlight brought to you by North Olmsted Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram.)
Punting in Cleveland in the expansion era is a tough job because of bad offenses and bad weather conditions.
The Browns have punted more than 80 times in a season in 10 of 14 years. In the last two months of a typical season, Cleveland punters have to deal with unpredictable winds and frigid cold.
Spencer Lanning, who enters training camp as the No. 1 punter, said he is mentally prepared for what lies ahead.
“As far as punting goes, I’m built for cold weather,” said Lanning, who is 5-11 and 200 pounds. “It’s one of those fun little facts – shorter guys, shorter drops. They keep the ball low. It doesn’t have much time to move in the air.
“Late in the season, that becomes a big factor. You don’t want balls floating around. Especially here in Cleveland.”
Lanning competed in Browns training camp last year, but was cut in favor of Reggie Hodges. He was re-signed in February after Hodges’ contract ran out. Undrafted out of University of South Carolina in 2011, this will be Lanning’s fifth—and best -- attempt to make an NFL roster.
“Every time something negative comes up you try to learn from it and try to take the next step,” he said. “I look at it either you get over it, or it becomes you. I’ve put my best foot forward, try to get a little more consistent, try to really hone in on my craft and try to perfect it. Crazy thing about any type of kicking at this level, you’re never going to be perfect. It’s almost like a myth, you’re always chasing it.
“I’ve worked with my dad in the offseason. He’s probably my biggest coach in punting. I work with him every year. I’m going home (after minicamp) and working with my dad. He has absolutely helped me hone in on things.”
Lanning’s competition in training camp will come from T.J. Conley, who was signed in May. Conley has one year of NFL experience with the New York Jets in 2011, but was out of the league in 2012.
Lanning has a few things going for him besides his familiarity with special teams coordinator Chris Tabor. He has the ability to place-kick – he was 34 of 44 in field goals at South Carolina – and also hold on place-kicks. At the Browns’ minicamp, Lanning was the No. 1 holder.
“I kicked in college so I had kind of a kicker mindset when it comes to holding,” he said. “I understand what they’re trying to get done and what they’d like to see from me.
“Robbie Gould, from Chicago, sort of locked me in. That’s where I went my rookie year and he sort of got me on the right track to be one of the best holders, and I work on it every day. I want to be one of those guys when people think back about why I was as successful as a kicker was because we had a really good snapper and a really good holder.”
|Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and www.espncleveland.com. |
He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 46 voters for the National Football League Hall of Fame. Email your “Hey Tony” questions to firstname.lastname@example.orgFollow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi
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