Dawg Pound end zone continues to mystify kickers - News & Notes

Austin Seibert spent his Wednesday trying to conquer the end of FirstEnergy Stadium that has wreaked havoc on all kickers -- not just him -- attempting field goals and extra points this season.

Seibert missed his first two field goal attempts of the season last week on tries from 45 and 50 yards, both of which were directed toward the East “Dawg Pound” end zone. Steelers veteran kicker Chris Boswell missed a try from 44 yards in the same direction earlier in the game.

Those three misses made the numbers for all kickers attempting kicks in that direction even more staggering. They’re now 2-for-8 on field goals and 10-of-14 on extra points through five games at FirstEnergy Stadium this season.

“It’s funny because you talk to (former Browns kicker) Phil Dawson before the season, and I got a lot of information from Phil. Obviously, he spent many great years here,” Browns special teams coordinator Mike Priefer said. “He never gave me that indication that the Dawg Pound was that bad, but he did say, once the ball gets up in the air, the winds do not always do what the flags are showing. I think that is what is happening.

Priefer said Seibert was 12-for-12 on kicks from that side of the field Wednesday when the Browns specialists spent some time at the stadium. It wasn’t the windiest of days, Priefer acknowledged, but that hasn’t seemed to matter this season.

Everywhere else, Seibert -- the other side of the field and a variety of road venues -- Seibert has been everything Cleveland had hoped when it selected him in the fifth round. He’s 16-for-18 on field goal attempts and 16-of-19 on extra point tries. All of his missed extra points have come on the vaunted, Dawg Pound side of FirstEnergy Stadium.

“It comes down to not overthinking it, to be honest with you,” Priefer said. “Phil just said hit your true ball. You hit a true ball, and sometimes you can’t really determine what the winds are going to do or would even guess what they might do. I think at the end of the day, you have to practice it, you have to go down there and keep working on it. Pregame is always important, and Austin struggled a little bit in pregame as their guy did on that end so we knew it was going to be an issue. 

“We just have to learn how to kick the right kick at the right time.”

Check out photos of the Browns preparing for their game against the Dolphins Sunday by team photographer Matt Starkey

-- Defensive end Olivier Vernon (knee) remained sidelined Thursday. He hasn’t played or practiced since suffering the injury late in the action in a Week 9 loss to the Broncos.

Linebacker Joe Schobert (groin) was added to the injury report and listed as a limited participant at Thursday’s practice.

-- Browns offensive coordinator Todd Monken said the combination of Kareem Hunt and Nick Chubb in Cleveland’s backfield reminds him of what he saw in 2007 when he was a wide receivers coach with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

That year, Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew combined for 390 carries for 1,970 yards and 14 touchdowns. Jones-Drew played the role similar to Hunt and served as the primary pass-catcher of the duo, compiling 40 receptions for 407 yards.

Monken was reluctant to say if the Taylor-Jones-Drew combination was better than Hunt-Chubb.

“Both of those guys were good players,” Monken said. “It is rare. It hard to collect and keep talent in the NFL. A lot of times not only at one position but on offense, it is hard to be elite at every single spot. As players develop, you lose them to free agency, some guys get hurt and you only have so many draft picks.”

Through two games together, Hunt and Chubb have combined for 250 rushing yards (most coming from Chubb) and 15 catches for 95 yards (most coming from Hunt). They’ve seemingly been at their best when they’re on the field at the same time.

“They are obviously two really good football players,” Monken said, “so we have to continue to find ways to get them touches in a number of ways.”

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