Browns claim they still believe in PK York

Published 5:20 pm Saturday, August 12, 2023

CLEVELAND (AP) — The Browns’ confidence in Cade York could be fluttering — like one of his recent kicks.

Cleveland’s second-year kicker, who struggled for much of his rookie season, missed his second field-goal attempt of the preseason during Friday night’s 17-15 loss to the Washington Commanders.

York pushed a 46-yard attempt in the third quarter to the right, a miss similar to one from 49 yards last week in the Hall of Fame game.

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While it would be easy to dismiss the two misfires as a young player working out the kinks in exhibitions, York’s inconsistency last season — 24 of 32 on field-goal tries with some big misses — makes them more notable.

Still, Browns coach Kevin Stefanski offered his public support of York on Saturday.

“It’s a small sample size,” Stefanski said on a Zoom call. “Cade’s working very hard just like the rest of our team is. It’s preseason football for all of us. None of us are ready to play or coach any in that first game just yet. So we’re working through it.”

York did not speak to the media Friday night, leaving before Cleveland’s locker room was opened to reporters.

His body language was strong after his miss. York was visibly frustrated and paced the length of the Browns’ bench area. At one point, veteran snapper Charley Hughlett approached York and appeared to offer him some words of encouragement.

The Browns chose not to bring a second kicker into training camp to compete with York, and even if the front office is contemplating that going forward, Stefanski said following the game that the plan is unchanged.

However, with York under the microscope, his performances will be scrutinized more than ever in Cleveland’s next two preseason games — at Philadelphia on Aug. 17, and at Kansas City on Aug. 26.

The 22-year-old York has admitted he put too much pressure on himself last season, which began with him kicking a 58-yard game-winner in the season opener at Carolina before things started to unravel.

With a powerful right leg, York has the necessary physical tools. Stefanski said the team believes York can handle the important mental side of the game.

“Cade’s got the makeup for that role,” he said. “As you know, he works very hard at his craft. It’s also part of being a player in the NFL and certainly part of being a kicker in the NFL is you got to bounce back from a miss.

“He did that in the game last night. So really that’s what I expect from all of our guys.”

Following his missed field-goal try, York did drill an extra point. Following their final touchdown in the last two minutes, the Browns chose to go for a tying 2-point conversion that failed.

The Browns made a major investment in York, selecting the former LSU standout in the fourth round of last year’s draft.

With every miss, that pick wanders further off the mark as well.

NOTES: LB Jacobs Phillips suffered a season-ending torn pectoral muscle in Friday’s game. Phillips suffered a similar injury to the other side last season. … Stefanski said WR Elijah Moore (ribs) is day to day after leaving Friday’s game in the first quarter. The team said X-rays were negative. … The Browns will travel to Philadelphia for two joint practices with the Eagles before playing the defending NFC champions on Thursday night. Stefanski said the starters will get plenty of work in the practices and Cleveland will use “primarily backups” in the exhibition.