Daryl Ruiter-92.3 The Fan

Browns Camp Notes: Kickers end practice with a bang

Hilliard ready to take No. 2 back job, Kitchens seeks consistency from Njoku

August 11, 2019
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Berea, Ohio (92.3 The Fan) – It has not been the best of camps for the Browns kicking competition, but Greg Joseph and rookie Austin Seibert ended Saturday’s practice with a bang.

Joseph was first up, and he hit a 44-yard field goal in a down by two, end of game scenario.

Seibert’s was even more impressive.

Same situation: down two, except the clock is running and his try was from 52. He nailed it with room to spare.

It was the first “pressure situation” kick of camp made by the fifth-round pick.

“I thought they did well,” head coach Freddie Kitchens said. “They had to come back and, it’s just consistency with those guys too. I just want it through the uprights, that’s all.”

Earlier in practice Joseph hit all five of his 11-on-11 special teams kicks – 33, 40, 43, 47 and 53 while Seibert went 4 of 5, missing wide left from 47.

Off the bubble – Dontrell Hilliard entered camp on the bubble and likely to make the team because of his return abilities as the third running back.

After Duke Johnson Jr. was sent to Houston on Thursday, Hilliard in now the No. 2 back behind starter Nick Chubb. For Hilliard, nothing changes.

“It’s no more pressure. It’s the same as it was if he was here,” Hilliard said. “It’s a competitive game, competitive nature, and that move that they made, they opened up an opportunity for me, and I’m going to do my best to take advantage of it.”

Against Washington in the preseason opener Hilliard ran it nine times for 19 yards and caught 3 of 6 targets for 34 yards. He also fumbled and had a costly holding penalty that pushed them out of field goal range late in the first half.

“It was him making a play and me trying to get the ball down,” Hilliard said of the fumble.

Hilliard also returned one kickoff 21 yards and two punts for a combined 17 yards.

“I feel real comfortable,” Hilliard said. “That’s how I looked at it coming in, anytime my number’s called, I’m going to be the one, the guy, so I had no doubt in my mind that I can fill that role or a more important role.”

Seeking consistency – On a fourth-and-goal situation, Baker Mayfield lobbed a beautiful ball between safeties Jermaine Whitehead and Justin Burris to tight end David Njoku, who high-pointed it in the back corner of the end zone for the score.

It was the type of play Kitchens would like to see Njoku make regularly.

“We just need it every day,” Kitchens said. “I just want to know what I’m getting when we go to the field and then we can plan accordingly. But, if you never know what you’re going to get then it’s had to plan. I want the same guy every day with everybody.”

Consistency has been a problem for Njoku since he was selected in the first round of the 2017 draft and it is something the Browns are hoping he works out in his third season.

“I think he is trying. I think David is trying,” Kitchens said. “He understands what the problem is. We like to identify problems and then attack that problem, and I think he is doing that. We have progress to go. We have to get better every day. He falls into that bill.”

Pick me – Cornerback Terrance Mitchell intercepted Mayfield in an 11-on-11 series, which was aided by pressure from defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi.

Linebacker Joe Schobert intercepted a Drew Stanton pass during a two-minute drill. Stanton was working with the first team offense.

What’s in number – Kitchens wore the No. 9 at Alabama but that’s not the number he wanted.

“I wanted No. 12 but our punter at the time had it. Go figure,” Kitchens said.

Did it matter? “It did until I did not get the number that I wanted at Alabama and then it did not,” Kitchens said.

In high school Kitchens was No. 12 and 14.

“I had 12 when I played wide receiver and I had 14 when I started playing quarterback. I was very versatile,” Kitchens joked.

Kitchens wanted to wear 12 for the Crimson Tide because that’s what Joe Namath, Kenny Stabler, Steve Sloan and other great quarterbacks he looked up to wore.

“It definitely affected how I played. I would have played much better at 12 than I did nine,” Kitchens said drawing laughs from reporters.

Notable quotable – “He's like a mustang. You don't want to reign him in because a lot of that stuff is what makes plays on Sundays.” – Browns quarterbacks coach Ryan Lindley on Baker Mayfield.

Numbers game – Numbers for the newly signed Browns are DT Brandin Bryant 69, FB Joe Kerridge 49 and T Travis Vornkahl 77.

Roster add – The Browns signed fullback Joe Kerridge Saturday.

Kerridge, who is in his third season out of Michigan, had appeared in 12 games with Green Bay from 2016-17.

Puppy pound counter – 17 puppies were adopted Saturday and 112 have been adopted through 12 practices in Berea. The partnership with the Northeast Ohio Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) is in its fifth year and since its inception in 2015 has seen a total of (472) puppies find homes during Browns training camps.  

Sugardale, who sponsors the team’s puppy pound, presented the Northeast Ohio SCPA with a $5,000 donation Saturday.

Injury report – WR Antonio Callaway (ankle), T.J. Carrie (hamstring), TE Seth DeValve (concussion), C Kyle Kalis (concussion), DE Jarrell Owens (groin), DT Brian Price (concussion), WR Damion Ratley (hamstring), CB Tavierre Thomas (hamstring) and DE Anthony Zettel (ankle) did not practice.  

Up next – No practice Sunday, players off; practice Monday 10:00 a.m.-12:25 p.m.