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Browns kicker competition 'neck and neck'

On paper, it's hard to find much separation between Browns kickers Carey Spear and Travis Coons in their ongoing competition.

On the paper Browns special teams coordinator Chris Tabor fills with the finer details of the two-man battle, it's even closer.

"It's still neck and neck," Tabor said before Monday's practice. "Statistically, more important, how they're hitting the ball because obviously there is more to it than just stats, ball flight, timing all those things, but they're both doing a really good job and this will be another week to see who comes ahead."

Coons and Spear, neither of whom have kicked in an NFL regular season game, have been solid on the practice field and even better in the higher-pressure situations of scrimmages and preseason games.

Coons, who has been listed first on the unofficial depth chart for the past two preseason games, nailed two long field goals (47 and 53 yards) at the Orange and Brown Scrimmage earlier this month and a 41-yarder Thursday with "a good wind going from the Dawg Pound" against the Bills. Spear connected on a 47-yarder against the Redskins. Neither has missed an extra point and both have generally sprayed their kickoffs deep into the end zone for touchbacks.

The way Tabor described it Monday, it's been more of the same when the two compete at the start of practice, when most observers aren't present.

"They're not making them just because we're hoping that they make them; we're kicking them," Tabor said. "I'm trying to keep their legs as fresh as I can so that the competition is true, it doesn't come down to the guy's leg is sore and you can't get an honest evaluation. I think we've been smart on it because it is, it's still a very tight race."

The next two preseason games will provide each kicker with more opportunities to impress. Because of their consistency, the margin for error is minimal.

Asked if he felt the need to bring in a veteran kicker near the end of preseason to push the pair, Tabor gave the rookies a vote of confidence and said, at this stage, he didn't think it would be necessary.

"I think it's still to be played out. I really do," Tabor said. "I'm waiting for one of them to take it by the horns, so to speak, and if one of them is the kicker then yes, obviously, we made that decision and we'll be confident in that player."

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