Browns Mailbag

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Browns Mailbag: What’s the latest in the Browns kicking competition?

We’re Indy-bound and answering four of your questions before the Browns take the field for the first of two joint practices with the Colts.

Am I correct in thinking Devaroe Lawrence has moved into the lead for the DT4 spot? Brian Price finished strong last season. What is his injury situation? Any other thoughts on the 8-9 guys who will comprise the DL group? -- Kevin A., Cleveland

I’m not ready to pen or pencil in anyone just yet with certain reserve spots, but you’re right to assume Lawrence has made his presence felt at training camp. The week in which Cleveland’s starting defensive line was sidelined with various injuries was huge for Lawrence, who has been with the Browns since the end of the preseason last year, when the Browns acquired him from the Saints in exchange for a seventh-round pick. Lawrence didn’t play much and ultimately finished the season on the practice squad, but he came ready to play the moment Cleveland donned pads at this year’s training camp. After picking up a ton of valuable reps against the first-team offensive line, he was hard to miss at last week’s preseason game, too, as he picked up a sack and three tackles.

“I do not know if you guys paid any attention or not, but the week leading up to the game, we could not block him,” Browns coach Freddie Kitchens said. “That was a continuation of practice. Practice does not mean anything until it does. Sometimes people like to focus on the fact that they are not making plays in practice, then they kind of get discouraged and then that is when their game production comes down. We do not ever want to look at the scoreboard. We do not ever want to look at the production. We just want to get better for the Cleveland Browns and that is what he did. Those are three good examples right there.”

Check out photos as the team travels to Indianapolis to practice with and play the Colts in the preseason.

You’re right about Price finishing strong last season. He was a solid rotational player who got more and more playing time as the year elapsed. He’s unfortunately been sidelined for a while because of a concussion.

As for my other thoughts on the defensive line? I’m starting to very much agree with Kitchens, who has been adamant this group will be one of the team’s biggest strengths. The starting unit is as impressive as any in the AFC, and the second- and third-team units have looked the part, too. There will be some tough decisions to make when this room is trimmed down to eight or nine players.

Have the Browns considered trying Britton Colquitt out as the placekicker as well as the punter? -- Robert T., San Diego

If they have, I haven’t seen it, and I highly doubt it. Colquitt has some kicking experience, but he hasn’t done it since high school -- where he hit a 52-yarder! And who can forget his game-winner against Science Hill? All jokes aside, Colquitt will continue to play his vital role on field goals and extra points … as the holder.

Do the Browns think they have a kicker in camp or will they look at the waiver wire? A kicker can mean the difference between a 11-5 division winner and 10-6 just miss the playoffs. What do you think they will do? -- Jeff L., Avon

Browns special teams coordinator Mike Priefer has told his kickers they aren’t just competing against each other, but other kickers around the league. And as was evidenced earlier this week -- when the Ravens traded their backup kicker, Kaare Vedvik, to the Atlanta Falcons for a fifth-round pick -- teams are always keeping their options open at the position. At the same time, Priefer has been consistent in his belief that the team’s 2019 kicker is on the current roster.

“One of them is going to win the job,” Priefer said. “I know we have the right two punters in camp, and one them is going to win the job. We are hopefully going to win a bunch of games with those guys.”

After a rough beginning to camp, both Greg Joseph and Austin Seibert have settled down a bit. Their performance in last week’s preseason game was nearly perfect, as Joseph hit an extra point and a 43-yarder but missed an extra point while Seibert hit both of his extra points. Seibert’s best moment in training camp occurred Saturday, when he rushed onto the field and nailed a 52-yarder at the end of a team period. Joseph, meanwhile, was a perfect 6-for-6 at Monday’s practice.

“They had to come back, and it is just consistency with those guys, too,” Kitchens said. “Like I said the other night, I just want it through the uprights. That is all.”

The win over Washington had a lot of outstanding offense and defense NFL SportsCenter highlights. How did the Browns perform in the penalty column, which I have not seen or heard mentioned since the game? -- Tom V., Chattanooga, Tennessee

Well, it didn’t start off great, as the Browns picked up a block in the back penalty on the game’s opening kickoff return. They also coughed up 43 yards on an Eric Murray pass interference penalty.The team finished with a modest six penalties for 89 yards, but none got under the skin more than the holding penalty Cleveland picked up near the end of the first half. In position to kick a long field goal, the Browns pushed themselves out of range when Dontrell Hillard was flagged and were forced to run a Hail Mary type play. Needless to say, Kitchens was not pleased.

To me, it was a win for the Browns to not commit any other special teams penalties after the one to open the game. That's been a major area of emphasis for Priefer from the moment he was hired.

"I have been harping at it a lot and I hoping that we can turn the corner because the last two years we were not," Priefer said. "Where I was the last place I was, we were not penalized very often and that is why we got to get to that mentality here because you are exactly right, there were way too many penalties last year and that will kill a football team.”

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