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Freddie Kitchens: Kickers ‘need to keep competing’ after struggling in Cleveland Browns training camp

Cleveland Browns coach Freddie Kitchens wants to see his specialists move onto the next kick when they are off the mark in training camp.

BEREA, Ohio — The Cleveland Browns placed a lot of faith in kicker Austin Seibert when they selected him in the fifth round of the 2019 NFL Draft, but throughout the offseason program and first week of training camp, the first-year specialist has struggled.

And Seibert is not the only one, as incumbent kicker Greg Joseph has been inconsistent as well, including a combined one-for-four showing by the two during an end-of-game drill in Wednesday’s practice at team headquarters.

“They need to keep competing,” Browns coach Freddie Kitchens said. “That’s all I have to say about it right now.

“They just need to keep competing, forget about today and move onto the next day. I’d like for them to move on from kick to kick, but let’s start with a day-to-day thing right now.”

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Over 54 games in four years with the University of Oklahoma Sooners, Seibert converted 310 of his 315 extra-point tries (98.4 percent) and 63 of his 79 field goals (79.7 percent) for a career total of 499 points. Additionally, Seibert punted 179 times for 7,457 yards, an average of 41.7 yards-per-punt.

During the 2018 season, the 5-foot-9, 213-pound Seibert converted 87 of his 88 extra-point tries (98.9 percent) and 17 of his 19 field goal attempts (89.5 percent). By percentage, it was Seibert’s most successful season as a collegiate kicker.

Seibert is the all-time leading scorer in both Oklahoma and Big 12 Conference history and ranks first among kickers in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) in career points, passing the old mark set by former Browns kicker Zane Gonzalez while he was at Arizona State (2013-2016). Additionally, Seibert had the most career extra points attempted (315) and made (310) among all kickers in FBS history.

“He’s going to get it ironed out,” said Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield, who played with Seibert at Oklahoma. “That’s why he was drafted that high. He’s working on it.”

Credit: Matt Florjancic
Cleveland Browns kicker Austin Seibert watches as his field goal attempt sails through the uprights on the first day of mandatory minicamp at team headquarters in Berea on Tuesday, June 4, 2019.

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Joseph was signed in the early part of the 2018 season after Gonzalez missed four kicks in a one-score loss at the New Orleans Saints in Week 2.

In 14 games with the Browns last season, Joseph converted 17 of his 20 field goal attempts (85 percent), with all three of his misses coming at distances over 40 yards. Also, Joseph made 25 of his 29 point-after tries (86.2 percent).

Credit: Matt Florjancic
Cleveland Browns kicker Greg Joseph attempts a field goal during a drill at organized team activities practice at team headquarters in Berea Thursday.

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Along with consistency from the kicking game, Kitchens wants to see better management of the end-of-game scenarios and a greater sense of urgency during the practices.

“I thought that part of it was sloppy, but I also think it’s a learning process, and that’s what we’re trying to do,” Kitchens said. “We’re trying to get everybody better, trying to be a smart football team, and we’re going to be a smart football team if we’re going to get where we’re going.

“There’s games won and lost because of one play, one decision. It usually falls on the coach and what decision, but after that ball is snapped, we need to play smart. We need to know what to do and what situation is occurring in front of us and react accordingly.

“This game’s about the players and the coaches aren’t out there. The coaches can’t walk them through it every time that happens during a game. We want to develop and keep creating an environment so we can learn from these things  so we can be a smarter football team.”

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