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Cade York taking simpler kicking approach to improve in inclement weather

York’s biggest takeaway from his rookie season was to focus less on the elements and more on following his usual kicking techniques


Cade York isn't worrying about the weather in Cleveland during his second NFL season.

That wasn't the case last year, and he'll be the first to admit it.

"I think people hyped that up to me too much, and — I'm taking responsibility — I took too much account for it," York told Jason Gibbs on an interview in Best Podcast Available. "I did well focusing on it, but then I let other things fall to the wayside."

As soon as the Browns selected him in the fourth round of the 2022 draft, all York seemed to hear about was how the rain, snow, wind and sleet in Cleveland was bound to challenge him. His adjustment to the NFL was different than other rookie kickers, and his preparations for his first year included more than just working with new specialists and acclimating to the elevated pressure of the NFL. 

The questions he faced about the weather weren't easy to answer at first. Not for a kicker who is from Texas and played in the balmy conditions of SEC stadiums while at LSU.

"Literally five minutes after I got drafted, I got a phone call in my dad's Jeep in the parking lot of a Walk-On's in Baton Rouge, and the first question was, 'How are you going to deal with zero degrees and 45 mile per hour winds?'

"I was like, 'Uh, kick it harder?'"

But like all rookies do, York learned. For kickers, the learning is often done only after committing mistakes.

York had a few of those during an up-and-down season where he converted 75 percent of his field goals (24-for-32). The best moment was his 58-yard game winning field goal against the Panthers in Week 1, which sent a loud statement about the power York possesses in his right leg and how well he can stay poised under pressure.

But his season also included two missed field goals in both Week 5 against the Chargers (a 30-28 loss) and Week 15 against the Ravens (a 13-3 win). The latter game featured cold and windy weather. He also missed a field goal under rainy skies in a Week 12 overtime win against the Buccaneers.

Rough weather wasn't always in the equation when York missed kicks — and he actually performed well in the toughest weather game of the year, converting a 30-yard field goal and an extra point in the second coldest regular season home game in Browns history in Week 16 against the Saints.

But as he self-assessed where he could've been better after the season, the weather-related games stuck out most.

"I think the biggest thing I learned is that I actually focused way too much on trying to be a better kicker to deal with the weather, when, really, I was already that kicker," he said. "I just needed to keep doing what I already had been doing.

"To be honest, the weather was never the problem. I would just focus so much on that that I would almost put too much on it, and when it came to other stuff that was simple, I would brain fart. That's when stuff would go wrong."

York has tweaked his offseason workload to ensure those simple elements still feel simple when training camp begins.

He's kicking less this offseason, a trend he's followed each year since his freshman year of high school to preserve his leg. Prior to this offseason, kicking sessions typically consisted of at least 50-75 kicks prior, but York said he hasn't come close to attempting 50 kicks in a single session since last season ended.

"People might take that as, 'He's not working hard enough,'" York said. "No, it's about being super intentional about every rep. I don't want to kick until I'm tired. I want to kick and still feel good at the end of my session because on game days, you're not going to have that. 

"On game days, you're probably going to be tired because you've got to warm up an hour-and-a-half, two hours before the game, and then you have to stay warm for a three-and-a-half hour game. You need your body to stay in shape for that and not get beat up every time you go out and kick the ball."

The alterations have carried a positive mental effect for York, too, which is a benefit new special teams coordinator Bubba Ventrone has helped him realize.

"He's kind of been the yin to my yang," York said. "I'm super driven and have liked to kick a lot of balls, and he's like, 'Cade, you're doing a good job. You don't need to kick 1,000 balls. That rep looked good. Don't change anything.' Or when I've tried to add another thing to my kick to make it look better, he's like, 'Nope. You're doing just fine. Just keep doing that.'"

That approach, coincidentally, is the same one York will take with him the next time he's kicking in an unfriendly weather environment.

Don't think. Just kick.

"It's not something I have to do something special for," York said. "I just have to account for it."

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