Cleveland Browns fill placekicker position with NFL veteran

Cleveland Browns fans will recognize the name of the team's new placekicker. The Cleveland Browns have reached agreement with a specialist who last played for the franchise four years ago.

By , Associated Press

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    Cleveland Browns punter Spencer Lanning (5) kicks a field goal during the second half of a preseason NFL football game against the Chicago Bears, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013, in Chicago. The Browns won, 18-16.
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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.

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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.

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