Cleveland Browns: Kicking competition will likely last the entire preseason

(Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
(Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) /

The Cleveland Browns have two players vying for the kicking job in 2017, and the competition will likely last up until the final roster cuts.

We should have cloned Phil Dawson when we had the chance.

While much of the attention surrounding the Cleveland Browns is all about the quarterback position, the player chosen to be the kicker will also play a crucial role this season.

Games can come down to the foot of the kicker in any given week, just as fans saw last year in Week 3 when some missed field goals cost the Browns an early win. And the game in Week 16 that bumped the team up to the sad record of 1-14 was won after a missed field goal.

The competition this year is between Cody Parkey and Zane Gonzalez, and there is no clear favorite for the job.

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Parkey fans can point to the kicker’s success after the Week 3 debacle last season, which wasn’t helped by the fact he was flown in right before the game.

Those in favor of Gonzalez can cite all his college accomplishments, although those don’t mean much now that he is in the NFL. A few missed kicks can cost a job in this league.

Barring any total meltdown, this competition will likely rage on until the final preseason game.

Hue Jackson won’t know what he has until he sees the two kickers play in actual games, as the whole mindset is different compared to practice, when the stress levels are much lower.

But if both kickers match each other kick-for-kick throughout the preseason, Gonzalez may emerge as the favorite just because the team drafted him. With this team coveting draft picks like gold, using one on a kicker shows that the front office believes he may be the next Phil Dawson.

Then again, part of the rebuilding process involves bringing in talent at all positions to let competitions ensue and find the best players, so Gonzalez must still play at a high level to keep the job if he ultimately ends up winning it.

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It isn’t the most exciting of competitions, but whoever wins the job will play a crucial role in 2017 and hopefully for many years to come.