|Browns reach agreement with kicker Cundiff|
|Wednesday, September 04, 2013 12:21 AM|
CLEVELAND — Billy Cundiff’s last kicking job with the Browns was temporary. He’s got a more permanent gig now.
Cundiff reached agreement with Cleveland on Tuesday, filling an unexpected hole the Browns created with less than a week left before their season opener against the Miami Dolphins.
It’s Cundiff’s second stint with the Browns. He was with the club in 2009, when he made all six of his field-goal attempts while filling in for Phil Dawson, who was sidelined with a calf injury.
Cundiff replaces the dependable Dawson, the best field-goal kicker in Browns history and second-leading career scorer who didn’t re-sign after last season and is now with San Francisco.
The 33-year-old Cundiff auditioned Tuesday for the Browns along with Giorgio Tavecchio, who was released by Green Bay last week. The Browns have been looking for a kicker since terminating veteran Shayne Graham’s contract and releasing rookie Brandon Bogotay last weekend as they cut their roster to 53.
To open a roster spot for Cundiff, the Browns placed offensive guard Jason Pinkston on the short-term injured reserve list. Pinkston sustained a high ankle sprain on Aug. 15 against Detroit and is still in a walking boot. He’s eligible to return to practice following Cleveland’s Oct. 20 game against Green Bay and is eligible to play in the Nov. 3 game against Baltimore.
Four years ago, Cundiff picked up the slack when Dawson was hurt. He appeared in five games and made the winning field goal against Buffalo in Week 5 as the Browns beat the Bills 6-3.
Cundiff, who has appeared in 106 career NFL games for five teams, made the Pro Bowl with Baltimore in 2010. He made 26-of-29 field goals and led the league with 40 touchbacks that season.
He wasn’t as consistent the following years and is perhaps best remembered for missing a potential game-tying 32-yard field goal in the closing seconds of the 2012 AFC Championship against New England.
Cundiff was released by the Ravens in 2012 and kicked in five games for Washington last season, making 7-of-12 field-goal tries. He went to training camp with the New York Jets this summer and made all three of his field goals during the exhibition season but was released on Aug. 28.
Cundiff has connected on 139-of-184 (75.5 percent) career field-goal attempts.
The Browns relied heavily last season on Dawson, who made 29-of-31 kicks, including all seven from beyond 50 yards.
Cleveland had planned to try out veteran Dan Carpenter but he chose to sign with the Buffalo Bills after rookie kicker Dustin Hopkins was injured in practice on Monday.
Graham and Bogotay split the kicking duties throughout camp and the preseason and it was assumed one of them would win the job. But coach Rob Chudzinski said the Browns were not satisfied with their performances — Bogotay also had a groin injury — and the team opted to look elsewhere despite the opener being just a few days away.
Broncos’ Von Miller among 20 suspended NFL players
NEW YORK — Denver All-Pro linebacker Von Miller is among 20 NFL players suspended for the beginning of the NFL season.
Miller will be out for six games for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. He will miss Thursday night’s opener between Super Bowl champion Baltimore and the Broncos.
The league wanted a longer penalty for the third-year linebacker but the sides agreed to less than half the season. It will cost Miller about $800,000.
“I made mistakes and my suspension has hurt my team, Broncos fans, and myself,” Miller said when the agreement was reached last month. “I am especially sorry for the effect of my bad decisions on others. I will not make the same mistakes about adhering to the policy in the future. “
Two players are suspended for eight games: Ravens defensive back Asa Jackson and Cincinnati defensive end DeQuin Evans, under the performance-enhancing drugs policy.
None of the 20 players has been suspended for violating the personal conduct policy, although Jets running back Mike Goodson was arrested in New Jersey in May on drugs and weapons charges and will miss four games for substance abuse. His case was sent to a grand jury.
Also suspended under the substance abuse policy for four games each were: Jacksonville receiver Justin Blackmon, Indianapolis receiver LaVon Brazill, New York Giants safety Will Hill, Washington linebacker Rob Jackson, Arizona linebacker Daryl Washington, and Baltimore safety Christian Thompson.
Also barred for substance abuse — but with lesser suspensions — were: Minnesota fullback Jerome Felton (three games), Cleveland receiver Josh Gordon (two), San Francisco tight end Demarcus Dobbs (one), Rams running back Isaiah Pead (one) and Chiefs offensive lineman Rokevious Watkins (one).
Suspended four games for using performance enhancers were: Seattle linebacker Bruce Irvin, St. Louis linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar, Oakland receiver Andre Holmes, Washington defensive lineman Jarvis Jenkins and Minnesota tackle DeMarcus Love.
4 ex-NFL players file new suit on concussions
NEW ORLEANS— Four former NFL players have sued the league and its helmet maker, claiming they hid information about the dangers of brain injury. They want medical care for past, current and future NFL players.
The ex-players — Jimmy Williams, Rich Mauti, Jimmy Keyes and Nolan Franz — filed the federal lawsuit in New Orleans on Sunday.
Last week, the NFL tentatively agreed to pay $765 million to past players with health problems that can be caused by concussions, but some said the amount should have been more.
James Dugan II, the attorney for the former players bringing the new suit, did not immediately return a call and e-mail seeking comment.
Neither the league nor helmet maker Riddell, Inc. would comment Tuesday about the new suit, which claims they failed to protect players from brain injuries. Riddell isn’t part of the proposed settlement.
The players say they have suffered one or more traumatic brain injuries. They want the NFL and Riddell to set up and pay for a medical monitoring and treatment program for all former, current and future NFL players.
Like earlier lawsuits, this one claims the league and Riddell failed to protect players from brain injuries.
Three wives — Chandra Williams, Nancy Mauti and Billie Keyes — also are plaintiffs. They say that brain injuries have deprived them and will deprive other NFL spouses of their husbands’ “services, society and companionship.”
The former players say each has had headaches, dizziness, memory loss, depression, cognitive dysfunction and medical bills because of concussions and other brain injuries, and will have future expenses which they and their wives will have to pay for and future problems that will require their wives’ care.
Williams played for the Buffalo Bills, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, and Houston Texans. Mauti played for the New Orleans Saints and Washington Redskins. Both live in Louisiana. Keyes, who lives in Florida, played for the Miami Dolphins and Franz, who lives in Mississippi, played for the Bills and Green Bay Packers.
49ers top AP power rankings, Raiders last
NEW YORK — The San Francisco 49ers top the AP Pro32 power rankings as the NFL begins its 2013 season.
Losers in the Super Bowl last February to Baltimore, the 49ers earned nine first-place votes and 379 points Tuesday from a nationwide panel of 12 AP Pro32 members who cover the league.
“The NFL’s most physical team expects to be playing at the Meadowlands in February,” Ira Kaufman of the Tampa Tribune said.
But Charean Williams of the Fort Worth Star Telegram warned: “Colin Kaepernick will have to be more accurate than he was the last three regular-season games of 2012 if the 49ers want to stay here all season.”
Denver, which also lost to the Ravens in the postseason, and Seattle were tied for second with 358 points. The Broncos drew two first-place votes and the Seahawks, who will compete with the 49ers for the NFC West title, received the other.
“Peyton Manning has enough weapons to outscore most teams until (suspended linebacker) Von Miller gets back,” said Pat Kirwan of SiriusXM and CBS Sports.
Rounding out the top five were Atlanta and New England. The Ravens finished eighth in the final preseason poll.
“With Anquan Boldin (trade) and Dennis Pitta (injury) gone,” Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News said, “Joe Flacco is without his two top receivers from 2012. He needs to find those 126 receptions and 11 touchdowns elsewhere in 2013.”
At the bottom are the Oakland Raiders with a mere 20 points. Oakland was 32nd on eight ballots.
“Neither Matt Flynn nor Terrelle Pryor did anything to distinguish himself in a lackluster preseason quarterback competition,” Newsday’s Bob Glauber said. “Can anything but an awful record and a high draft pick be next?”
Still, there was sentiment for two teams being worse than the Raiders. Jacksonville, which ranked 31st, received three last-place votes. The New York Jets, 30th overall, got the other.
“As usual, the Jets remain in the headlines for all the wrong reasons (quarterback problems, media squabbles, etc.),” said Alex Marvez of SiriusXM and FoxSports1.
And the Jags?
“First-year coach Gus Bradley will raise the bar for this team,” ESPN’s Jeff Legwold said, “but it has too many roster questions at the moment.”
The next AP Pro32 power rankings will be released Sept. 10.