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Browns kicker competition heating up as decision draws closer

Patrick Murray came to Berea in June with nothing but three days of football guaranteed to him.



]( and a half months later, Murray is still with the Browns and in the thick of a kicking competition that will continue this week in Tampa.

Invited on a tryout basis, Murray impressed enough to earn a spot on the 90-man roster. He's maintained that momentum throughout the preseason as he battles for a job with Cleveland's incumbent kicker, Travis Coons.

Never once did he doubt his ability to give the Browns a tough decision to make at a position that only has room for one.

"I approach every opportunity like it's a real opportunity for me to win a job. That's the way you have to be in the NFL," Murray said after Sunday's practice. "These opportunities don't just come around all the time. That's my approach."

The approach has served him well, and the competition has been embraced by Coons, who won a similar battle around this time last year despite having never kicked in an NFL game.

"Everything is positive," Coons said. (Murray) is doing good things. I'm doing good things. It's all fun. It's all good."

In Cleveland's two preseason games, Murray has been more accurate, nailing a 46-yarder at Green Bay and hitting his extra point last week against the Falcons. Coons missed his only attempt of the preseason to date, an extra point against the Falcons.

One miss can make or break a game, but Cleveland's kicker competition is an everyday event.

"We're at the bottom of the roster and you're always churning the bottom of the roster," Browns special teams coordinator Chris Tabor said. "At that position, those guys know it's about makes and misses. To have a guy like Patrick come in and here compete for job, it's a legitimate job. If he does better than what Travis does, then obviously there's talk."

Coons' focus has centered on getting more lift on his kicks after having a handful of his attempts blocked near the end of last season. The second-year kicker is coming off a season in which he made 28-of-32 field goals and 22-of-24 extra points.

He's being pushed to be even better, and that's what makes for a good competition.

"That's pretty much all I did all offseason was try to work on getting lift on the ball, which I think I did," Coons said. "Even sometimes, like the other day in practice, I've been getting a little too much and the wind kind of like takes it away from me, but that's another thing that I can work on and get honed in on."

Murray had similar success as a rookie in 2014, making 20-of-24 field goals and all of his extra points as a member of the Buccaneers. He missed all of 2015 because of a knee injury but stressed he's feeling "incredible" from a physical standpoint as he competes with Coons.

"I'm loving every minute of it, especially coming off the injury that I'm coming off of just to get another opportunity is a blessing," Murray said. "Every day out here, I've just tried to put my best foot forward and make the kicks that I'm given. That's what I've done and I feel good."

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