CLEVELAND — Cleveland Browns kicker Austin Seibert and punter Jamie Gillan earned their ways onto the roster with solid production late in training camp and during the final two preseason games, but results were mixed for the rookie specialists in their NFL regular-season debuts.
In last Sunday’s 43-13 loss to the Tennessee Titans at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, Seibert missed an extra point after a touchdown on the opening drive and Gillan hit his first punt short, but was fortunate to get a nice roll at the end of the kick to add more distance.
Seibert pushed his first regular-season extra point try wide right, and when he converted his second attempt, the former University of Oklahoma Sooners kicker was rewarded with a Bronx cheer from the capacity crowd.
“He did exactly what he was not doing the last three to four weeks when he ended up winning the job,” Browns special teams coordinator Mike Priefer said Friday. “He normally doesn’t kick that way or he wouldn’t be here. It was just poor technique.”
Seibert handled the kicking duties over the final two preseason games, converting all six of his field goal tries, including a 54-yarder against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Friday, August 23. Also, Seibert converted both of his extra-point tries over the final two weeks of the preseason.
Despite struggling through much of training camp, Seibert finished the preseason with six makes in seven field-goal attempts, as he was off the mark with a 50-yarder against the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday, August 17.
“I am not going to make excuses for him, and he would not make this excuse, but we scored so quickly and he never really got a chance to get into the game,” Priefer said. “He needs to be more prepared than that. It is kind of like I tell the guys all the time, it is a sudden change.
“Anything that happens fast like pick six, a return for a touchdown or anything good that happens for us, obviously, bam, you score and you have to be ready. Maybe mentally, he was not quite prepared. He came back on the second extra point and stroked it. That is what we expect from him every single time because he is good enough to do that.”
Known by his nickname, “The Scottish Hammer” for his strong kicking leg, Gillan launched five punts against the Titans and averaged 46.6 yards per kick. Gillan had three land inside Tennessee’s 20-yard line and posted a long kick of 52 yards.
That is the kind of consistency the Browns are hoping to see more of during the Monday Night Football game against the New York Jets this week.
“Other than the first one, I thought that he had a really good day,” Priefer said of Gillan. “The first one, we were very fortunate because when you punt from backed up, the hit and rolls are nice, but you can’t count on those, rely on those after a returner comes up and he even fair-catches that ball, they get the ball across the 50, which is a no-no when you are kicking from backed up.
“The other four punts I believe he had, he really hit the ball well. We covered well. We protected well for the most part. Now, we have to keep working on the fundamentals there, but other than that, it was a pretty good day for Jamie.”