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.


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Redskins 53-man roster projection, ver. 2.0

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Redskins 53-man roster projection, ver. 2.0

<< Click here to see Redskins 53-man roster projection ver. 2.0 >>

The Redskins are halfway through the preseason and the first two games may have done more to muddy the waters when it comes to who will make the 53-man roster than they did to clarify things. 

Here is my second training camp prediction of who will make the final cut for the Redskins. See where players are safe and where the hot spots are for competition. 

Among the big battles taking shape:

—An injury and one player’s impressive preseason have juggled the wide receiver depth chart. 

—With Orlando Scandrick cut, the cornerback position looks set but the rookies had better not do anything to shake the coaches’ confidence in them. 

—There are seven safeties who may be worthy of roster spots, but only four are likely to make it. 

—Despite the Hogan-led rally last night, it still looks like the roster will have only two QBs. 

<< Click here to see Redskins 53-man roster projection ver. 2.0 >>

Redskins 2018 news:

-Redskins vs Jets: Must-see photos from the game
-Analysis: Five Redskins-Jets observations

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, and follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCS and on Instagram @RichTandler

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John Wall's sneaker closet is next-level – here are his favorite Adidas

John Wall's sneaker closet is next-level – here are his favorite Adidas

When John Wall re-signed with Adidas this past January, it was time to stock his shoe closet with all the newest, most exclusive Three Stripes designs. 

The brand is known for its designer collaborations and limited releases that can push the pricetags up into the hundreds. 

Cost is no object for Wall, who invited Chris Miller into the shoe closet of his Miami mansion. You can watch the full closet tour in the video player above.

Wall keeps thousands of dollars of footwear organized inside specially lit display cases. But what are his favorites? He pulled out six Adidas designs he's been loving this the summer. 

1. Raf Simons Replicant Ozweego Independence Day – These sneakers are the product of Adidas's collaboration with Belgian designer Raf Simons, who has worked as creative director of fashion houses Christian Dior and Calvin Klein. Wall got his hands on the Independence Day colorway of these sneakers before they were released in July. They're available retail for $450 at Saks Fifth Avenue

2. Yeezy Boost 700 "Wave Runner" – Designed as part of Kanye West's Yeezy collection, the "Wave Runner" has been a popular model since its first release in February 2017. A third release is scheduled sometime later this year, but to purchase them now, Flight Club sells pairs ranging from $575 to $1,320

3. Twinstrike ADV – Wall has the Twinstrike in multiple bold colorways. The shoe debuted late in 2017 and is more attainable than the first two pairs he showed off. They're available at Barneys New York for $180

4. EQT Support Ultra King Push “Bodega Babies” – These EQT Support sneakers got an update in collaboration with rapper Pusha T. The sock-style primeknit has been a popular design feature for Adidas. The sneakers are limited release, but retail at $220 at Barneys New York.

5. Pharrell NMD Hu Trail “Holi" in Pink Glow – This exclusive collaboration with hip-hop producer Pharrell Williams was inspired by the Holi festival of colors in India. Released in limited quantities in early March of 2018, the shoe's retail price was $250. To buy a pair now, it'll cost anywhere from $325 to $480 at Flight Club

6. Originals Gazelle – Finally, Wall gets to a classic! The Gazelle was originally designed in the mid-1960s and became one of Adidas's most recognizable, popular designs throughout the brand's history. They're popular, easy to find and affordable. The Adidas website has a whole section devoted to the Gazelle, which comes in men's, women's and kids' sizes. A standard pair of men's costs around $80 at retail

For those not keeping track, the six shoes above combine to cost around $2,000 or more. But whether people can afford them or not isn't the point. 

Wall told Miller how he couldn't afford the sneakers he loved as a kid, but still kept track of all the new releases and special styles. As he made money and started to build his shoe collection, he treated it like collecting fine art.

But also like art, you don't have to own designer sneakers to appreciate them. 

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