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Should the Cleveland Browns Consider Dan Carpenter if Brandon Bogotay Struggles?
By Bob Evans
Earlier this week, the Cleveland Browns search to replace longtime kicker Phil Dawson seemingly swung in the direction of an unproven commodity, as head coach Rob Chudzinski announced Brandon Bogotay will take care of all the kicking duties against the Detroit Lions on Thursday night. With experienced veteran Shayne Graham on the roster, the Browns seem to be torn between the big leg of Bogotay and one of the most accurate kickers in NFL history in Graham.
After going undrafted out of Georgia in the 2012 NFL Draft, Bogotay signed with the Browns in early April of this year. Bogotay’s collegiate resume isn’t much more than his NFL resume, as the youngster with the big boot made all seven of his attempted extra points in two years at Georgia, and made just one of the three field goals he attempted in two seasons. Despite the inexperience, it seems the Browns are giving him every opportunity to win their starting kicker job.
On the other side of the fence is Graham, a veteran of 12 years with eight different teams. Graham has made 85.4 percent of the field goals he has attempted during his tenure in the NFL, knocking in 245-of-287. He has also been nearly automatic on extra points, making 368-of-373 at a 98.7 percent clip for his career.
With a player many would consider pretty much automatic in Graham on the roster, many are left wondering just why the Browns are giving Bogotay such an opportunity to be the No. 1 kicker. That reason is simple, Graham has made just 13-of-27 for his career from outside of 50 yards—less than a 50 percent average from what is considered “long distance” in the NFL. And although Bogotay literally has no experience kicking in an NFL game, the Browns feel good about his ability to be better than Graham from the distance that means the most with the game on the line.
As the kicking battle heats up between Bogotay and Graham, one has to wonder if the Browns would consider bringing in another kicker this late in the game. Kicking isn’t like other positions in the NFL in which you have to learn new schemes and systems, you pretty much just line it up and give it the boot. If Bogotay struggles against the Detroit Lions in the team’s second preseason game, there is a player out there who was just released on Wednesday that would certainly fit the bill for the team—that player is Dan Carpenter, who was released by the Miami Dolphins.
After utilizing a fifth-round selection on Caleb Sturgis from Florida, the Dolphins felt it was time to part ways with Carpenter on Wednesday. Despite being a former Pro Bowl selection in 2009 and kicking at an 81.9 percent average for his five seasons in Miami, the Dolphins had a better feeling about the pro prospects of Sturgis at this time in his career.
Carpenter would certainly be an intriguing option for the Browns. Outside of a rough 2010 season in which he finished at 73.2 percent, Carpenter has never finished below 81.5 percent in a season. His 89.3 percent average in 2009 is what earned him a trip to the Pro Bowl, as he made 25-of-28 field goals that season. The best thing of all about Carpenter is that he has a combination of both a strong leg (10-of-20 from 50-plus in five seasons) and experience in the NFL. While he may not be hitting the 50 yarders at an 80 percent average, the fact he has attempted 20 in just five seasons shows he has the leg and confidence to do so.
There have yet to bet any rumors linking Carpenter to the Browns—or any team for that matter. But if Bogotay struggles on Thursday, you better believe Cleveland could be in the market for another kicker with just two preseason games left.
As special teams coach Chris Tabor said, “It’s a competition.” And while the Browns have two options in camp right now, they are obviously looking for the best option—whether that player is on the roster or not right now.
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