Browns' Dawson having perfect season

Browns' Dawson having perfect season

BEREA, Ohio (AP) As Phil Dawson stuffed a seemingly endless supply of cleats into his travel bag, the Browns kicker kept in mind the wicked weather forecast for Sunday's game in Oakland.

Rain is expected to soak the Bay Area.

``I keep hearing the word torrential,'' the soft-spoken Texan said. ``Where I come from that means a lot.''

Figures. There will be less-than-ideal conditions when the Browns (3-8) try to snap a 12-game road losing streak as they visit the Raiders (3-8).

But that's nothing new for Dawson, who despite kicking in swirling winds, on soggy, chewed-up fields and for bad teams throughout his career, is having a perfect season.

In his 14th year with the Browns, the super-steady 37-year-old has never been better. He's made all 21 field-goal attempts, including five from beyond 50 yards. Dawson, unquestionably the best thing about the Browns since their return as an expansion franchise in 1999, has converted 27 straight kicks since last season, and he's the only full-time kicker in the NFL without a miss.

Yet, when the league recently released fan balloting for the Pro Bowl, Dawson wasn't among the top, more than 60,000 votes behind Oakland's Sebastian Janikowski.

Dawson won't campaign for selection, but punter Reggie Hodges isn't ashamed to stump for his teammate.

Hodges, who also holds on field-goal tries, has started pushing for Dawson on Twitter, posting his favorite kicker's statistics on the social media site and ending his messages with (hash)Dawson4ProBowl. Get Hodges started on Dawson's Pro Bowl worthiness and he makes a pretty strong case for his teammate to be bound for Hawaii when the season ends.

Hodges believes Dawson is being wrongly overlooked.

``He's been doing it for 14 years and he's been doing it in the worst conditions,'' Hodges said. ``Browns Stadium is the toughest place in the NFL to kick - by far. Chicago is a distant second. This place is unbelievable. Late in the year our field gets chewed up, and through the course of a game with the rain and snow, it's tough for him to find the right spot to kick off of. And to be 21 of 21 with five over 50 (yards), five of five from 40 to 49, that's incredible. Nobody's doing that.

``Janikowski is having a great year, but he's kicking in California. You get a little wind out there - maybe.''

Janikowski has only missed once, from 64 yards. Dawson holds Oakland's lengthy lefty, who shares the NFL record with a 63-yarder, in very high regard and doesn't like to compare himself to other kickers - except on game day.

``Each and every week I don't get an opponent across the line of scrimmage, so I try to compete against the guy I'm going against and obviously going against Sebastian is quite a challenge,'' Dawson said. ``He's one of the best there is and deservedly so. I look forward to getting out there and competing against him and see how it totals up at the end of the day.''

But as far as making the Pro Bowl, Dawson isn't worried about anything other than keeping his head down, striking the ball well and putting it through the uprights.

``It's not a make-or-break event to feel good about my career,'' he said. ``It's obviously been a goal for a long time, so to check the box so to speak, would be meaningful. And for a family of five, free vacations are a highly sought-after event. It would be great to experience.''

The fan's Pro Bowl balloting, which concludes on Dec. 17, counts as one-third with players' and coaches' votes making up the other two-thirds.

Dawson has earned the respect of his peers for not only his consistency this season, but his full body of work. Opposing kickers who visit Browns Stadium, where the unpredictable winds wreak havoc with kicks, often tell Dawson how impressed they are that he's been so good for so long.

``It's impressive really, especially, and I don't want this to come across the wrong way, but for his age and how long he's been doing it,'' said Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey, who has looked up to Dawson for years. ``He's tracking the ball great, just as good as anybody in the league obviously. I think that's most impressive is all his kicks over 50.''

Maybe more impressive are Dawson's career numbers at home. He has converted 84.7 percent (149 for 176) of his kicks in Cleveland compared to 78.2 percent (179 for 229) for opposing kickers.

Dawson can count on getting a vote for Browns coach Pat Shurmur.

``He's been a Pro Bowl quality kicker for a very long time,'' Shurmur said. ``I've got a great deal of respect for who he is and what he is as a player. I'm really glad he kicks for us. I think all that type of stuff, all those accolades, he's very deserving of that. I'm not going to sit here and campaign for him, but I do really appreciate what he does for our team.''

With five games left, Dawson is again facing an uncertain future with the Browns. For the past two years, the team has been unable to sign him to a long-term contract and used its franchise tag on Dawson. If the team does that for a third year, the Browns would be forced to pay him the average salary of the top five players in the league - a number that could be $15 million.

That's an unlikely scenario, and Dawson is thinking ahead past Sunday.

``One thing I've learned the last couple years is whatever's going to happen, is going to happen,'' he said. ``So whether I worry about it or think about it, that doesn't change things. So while I have an opportunity to come to work each and every day and try to be the best every day, that's what I'm going to do.''

And so far, that plan has been perfect.


NOTES: Browns KR Josh Cribbs practiced after missing two days with a shoulder/chest injury and expects to return punts and kickoffs against the Raiders. ... The Browns left for California following practice, flying out one day earlier than usual. ... Browns S Eric Hagg (illness) missed practice but made the trip. ... The Oakland-Cleveland matchup will be seen in only seven TV markets: two in Ohio, Medford, Ore., Reno and three California cities.


Online:http://pro32.ap.org/poll andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

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After getting little rest during All-Star break, Bradley Beal aims to be smart in second half

After getting little rest during All-Star break, Bradley Beal aims to be smart in second half

If anyone on the Wizards deserves some time off to rest it's Bradley Beal, who currently ranks fifth in the NBA in total minutes played. While his teammates were off on vacation, many of them at relaxing beaches far away, Beal was making appearance after appearance in Los Angeles as part of All-Star weekend.

The one drawback of Beal being selected as an All-Star and a contestant in the three-point contest was that he got little rest in the past week. He only made it one round in the three-point contest and played 16 minutes in the All-Star Game, but all of it was enough to soak up much of the free time he's used to getting this time of the year.

"Not as much as I needed to," Beal said when asked if he got any rest over the break. "I guess that's one of the downfalls of being an All-Star."


The workload has really added up for Beal. He leads the Wizards in minutes (36.4/g) and is one of two players on the team who hasn't missed a game all season.

Beal did have Monday and Tuesday off, but that was after a crosscountry flight and a whirlwind of a weekend. He called the media and sponsorship appearances "overwhelming." Many All-Stars have been there before and know what to expect, but Beal was a first-time participant.

Beal and the Wizards will be given no breaks with their upcoming schedule. They have four back-to-back sets in the next three weeks and begin with a stretch of five games in seven days. Those games will feature the Cavs, Warriors, Bucks, Sixers and the Hornets. Charlotte is the only team of that bunch currently out of the playoff picture, but they have already beaten the Wizards twice this season.


For Beal, it will be extra important to get any rest that he can.

"I will definitely be smart," he said. "I just gotta take care of my body. Listen to my body."

Beal says getting treatment from the Wizards' training staff in between games will be crucial. He also hopes to not over-exert himself in games by trusting his teammates and not trying to carry the load with John Wall out.

Though Beal may be tired from the weekend, he came out of it feeling pretty good about how he represented himself and the Wizards on the All-Star stage. He scored 14 points in 16 minutes in a game featuring the best players on the planet.

Beal now wants to make it an annual thing.

"I defintiely think it can push you more down the line. For me, it's just motivation to continue geting better," he said.



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Miami tagged Jarvis Landry, but what does that mean for the Redskins?

Miami tagged Jarvis Landry, but what does that mean for the Redskins?

Everything in the NFL feels like a powder keg, but the reality of Tuesday's opening of the franchise and transition tag period will play out as much more of a slow burn.

Few teams ever actually make moves on the opening day of the tag period, though the Dolphins bucked that conventional wisdom and used the non-exclusive franchise designation on wide receiver Jarvis Landry. 

Astute Redskins fans know the tag system all too well. Landry can now sign a one-year, fully guaranteed contract with the Dolphins worth more than $16 million, the average of the top-five paid receivers in the NFL. They can also trade Landry and the compensation discussion with a non-exclusive tag begins at two first-round draft picks, though it can eventually be settled for much less. 

What, if anything, does Miami's move mean for the Redskins? Let's take a look:

  1. Not gonna work here - Landry never really seemed like a great fit for the Redskins as a free agent, and that was before the franchise tag. He's a really good slot WR, but Washington already has that in Jamison Crowder. Whether or not Landry actually gets a deal done with the Dolphins or gets traded, it seems highly unlikely the Redskins are his next team. 
  2. "Spirit of the tag" - Miami putting the tag on Landry so early in the process signals that the team might be trying to trade him instead of actually trying to sign him. If that's the case, and plenty of people are suggesting just that, it would seem to be in contrast with the "spirit of the tag." The idea is that a franchise or transition tag is supposed to be used as a tool by an NFL franchise to get a long-term deal done with one of their own players facing free agency. Using the tag as a mechanism to pull of a trade seems very different. Why does any of this matter for Redskins fans? As reports emerged that Washington might look to use a tag on Kirk Cousins and work to trade him, the Cousins camp has made clear they would file a grievance against that technique. Why? Because it would violate the spirit of the tag. Well, it sure looks like Miami is doing the same thing, and as of now, nobody has complained. The situations aren't identical; few resemble the Redskins long, slow, awkward dance with Cousins. But it's certainly worth monitoring. 
  3. Wide Receiver$ - The Redskins could use a veteran wideout to help their young group of Crowder and Josh Doctson. Well, with Landry getting tagged, the price tag just went up. The player that seems to make the most sense in Washington would be Jaguars wideout Allen Robinson. Coming off a knee injury in 2017, some thought Robinson could be signed on a somewhat team-friendly deal. If Landry can get franchised after a season where he didn't even get to 1,000 yards receiving, any thought of a team-friendly deal for Robinson is dead. Make no mistake, Landry and Robinson are good players, but the ever-increasing NFL salary cap will make both young receivers very well paid. 

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