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Browns kicker Billy Cundiff: Replacing a legend like Phil Dawson 'is a good thing'

Sep 04, 2013 -- 1:40pm

By Tony Grossi | ESPNCleveland.com

 

Photo/Getty

Extra Points …

He’s back: The Browns wouldn’t disclose details, but the feeling was that the kicking tryout competition between Billy Cundiff, 33, and Giorgio Tavecchio, 23, wasn’t close.

It was held Tuesday on the team’s outdoor practice fields. The Browns intend to have Cundiff kick in FirstEnergy Stadium prior to Sunday’s game.

“I’m very comfortable (with Cundiff),” coach Rob Chudzinski said. “Obviously, he had a good workout. He’s played and knows the division. He’s played here. He’s outstanding on kickoffs. He’s been in the Pro Bowl. He’s a resilient guy. I have the utmost trust in him.”

Cundiff figured to win a toe-to-toe competition with a native of Italy who’s never kicked in an NFL game before.

“That’s close to my 30th workout since I’ve been in the league,” Cundiff said. “When most guys aren’t on a team, it’s hard to grasp what you’re going to go through, but I’ve been through so many it’s something I actually look forward to. It’s exciting.”

Cundiff replaced legend Phil Dawson in 2009 for five games when Dawson had a calf strain. Those games, in which Cundiff was good on all six field goal tries, re-ignited his NFL career. He said he and Dawson exchanged texting messages on Tuesday.

He likened this situation to replacing Matt Stover, a kicking icon for Baltimore, in 2010.

“I think it’s a good thing to come in after a guy who’s played at such a high level because the bar’s set really high and you got to bring your game up,” Cundiff said.

Cundiff said he has recovered from his 32-yard miss in the 2011 season AFC title game. The wild hook kept the Ravens out of the Super Bowl.

“There were a lot of things that went on with that situation,” Cundiff said. “Whether it was the scoreboard showing a different down, or the play clock being rushed … it was just a comedy of errors on a lot of fronts. I think that’s the best way to put it.”

Cundiff’s career hasn’t recovered from that miss. He’s hoping his time in Cleveland revives his career just like it did in 2009.

No flag zone: Brandon Weeden was asked what he remembered about last year’s opening game against Philadelphia, which was his first NFL game, of course.

“Too much, I think,” he responded. “Obviously it didn’t start well getting trapped under the flag. I kind of keep my eye out for those things now.”

That’s especially a good idea considering all the pre-game hoopla planned on the field for the opener on Sunday.

Weeden threw four interceptions in his NFL debut as the Browns lost, 17-16, despite five INTs by Michael Vick.

“It started bad and I just didn’t play well,” he said. “It was fast, I remember. That defense was fast. We gave ourselves a chance to win the game as bad as we played, but obviously weren’t able to do it.”

Sunday’s opener against Miami marks Weeden’s first NFL game against Ryan Tannehill. With Oklahoma State, Weeden beat Tannehill’s Texas A&M team 30-29 in 2011 and 38-35 in 2010. Tannehill was a receiver in the ’10 game.

For the record, Weeden was a combined 5-0 in college against Tannehill, Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin 3. In the NFL, he is 0-1 against Luck. RG3 didn’t play in the Browns’ 38-21 loss to the Redskins last year.

I asked him if it’s frustrating not having yet scored an NFL triumph over his college rivals.

“Absolutely,” Weeden replied. “I want to beat … playing checkers … I want to beat them. That’s just the way my competition level is. It counted then when we beat them. Now it counts again. I want to give our team every opportunity to win, whether it’s those guys or whoever else we’re playing.”

Quick hitters: LB Barkevious Mingo (bruised lung) was in full uniform with full pads, but was limited to non-contact work in individual drills … Chudzinski’s policy is to release the team’s daily injury report after 4 p.m. … Safety Johnson Bademosi is listed as the No. 1 kick returner, but Chudzinski said newly arrived running backs Bobby Rainey and Dennis Johnson, could be tried, too.

Paul Warfield honored: Former Browns News Illustrated publisher Ray Yannucci announced details of the Paul Warfield Project – a tribute to Warren, OH native Paul Warfield. The Paul Warfield Memorial will be unveiled during a dedication ceremony in front of Mollenkopf Stadium at Warren G. Harding High School on Sept. 12 at 6 p.m. Warfield also will be honored at halftime of the Warren Harding football game the following evening.The project, which includes a life-sized bronze statue of the Hall of Famer and two granite walls depicting his career, which started at the school, is funded solely by community donations. Yannucci said donations can be made payable and sent to Warren City Schools.

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 tgrossi@espncleveland.com

Follow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi

 

 

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