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Browns to try out kickers with opener looming

By TOM WITHERS - AP Sports Writer
    2013-09-02 22:59

CLEVELAND (AP) - With their season opener fast approaching, the Browns will audition kickers on Tuesday.

They don't have time to be too picky.

Former Pro Bowler Billy Cundiff will be one of several kickers expected to try out with the Browns, who will open the season on Sunday at home against the Miami Dolphins.

Over the weekend, the Browns' shocking decision to terminate the contract of veteran Shayne Graham and release rookie Brandon Bogotay left them without a replacement for the dependable Phil Dawson, whom the club chose not to re-sign after last season.

Players will have Tuesday off, but coach Rob Chudzinski, his staff and Cleveland's front office will be busy watching kickers boot field goals.

Dan Carpenter, a former Pro Bowl kicker with Miami, had been scheduled to kick for the Browns. But a person familiar with negotiations told the AP on Monday night that Carpenter is on his way to Buffalo to try out for the Bills after rookie Dustin Hopkins was hurt in practice.

Hopkins, drafted by Buffalo in the sixth round out of Florida State, had won the Bills' placekicking duties after veteran Rian Lindell was cut two weeks ago.

It's been a whirlwind few weeks for Carpenter, who was released by the Dolphins, Arizona and the New York Jets in the past month. The 27-year-old spent five seasons with the Dolphins, but lost his job in training camp to rookie Caleb Sturgis, a fifth-round pick from Florida. Carpenter would have made $2.7 million this year in the final season of a four-year contract.

Carpenter made the Pro Bowl in 2009 and holds Miami's club record with a 60-yard field goal in 2010 - against the Browns. He went 22 for 27 last year.

With Carpenter no longer in the mix, Cundiff could be the favorite to land Cleveland's job. He was with the Browns in 2009, filling in when Dawson was sidelined with a strained calf. Cundiff kicked the winning field goal as the Browns beat Buffalo 6-3 in Week 5.

Cundiff, a Pro Bowl selection in 2010 with Baltimore, was also cut by the Jets this summer.

Cundiff is perhaps best remembered for missing a 32-yarder for the Ravens that would have tied New England in the closing seconds of the 2012 AFC championship game.

The Browns have been looking for a kicker since deciding not to re-sign Dawson, who left after his 14th season with Cleveland and signed as a free agent with San Francisco.

It was assumed Graham would be his replacement when the Browns signed the 35-year-old in April. Graham, who spent last season with Houston, went 3 for 3 during the exhibition season but missed the preseason finale with a sore back. Chudzinski indicated Graham and Bogotay have not been ruled out as candidates.

Graham has made 85 percent (245 of 287) of his career kicks. He set a Texans franchise record by scoring 138 points last season.

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AP Sports Writer John Wawrow in Orchard Park, N.Y., contributed to this report.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

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