Although the fun parts of a football game are touchdowns, pick sixes, and fumbles, special teams is a key element also. Whether it’s to kick a game winning field goal or change the field position, the Browns’ special teams have done a respectable job through the first nine games. Here are some grades for Cleveland Browns‘ key special teams positions.
Punter: Heading in to this year, the Browns had no clue how Reggie Hodges would return to punting following last season’s injury. Anything had to be better than last seasons’ fill in Brad Maynard who was last in the NFL in every major punting statistic. So far this season, Hodges has not been much better. Hodges is averaging 42.7 yards a punt which is good for 30th in the NFL. Pinning teams inside the twenty yard line has been his strong suit with 16. However, the Cincinnati Bengals got Hodges on a punt return for a touchdown in week two. A botched extra point hold also hurt the Browns against the Indianapolis Colts too. Grade: D+
Long Snapper: Christian Yount has made us all forget about Ryan Pontbriand’s struggles of a year ago. Yount has even been credited with 2 tackles. Grade: A
Gunners and Tacklers: Three names stand out when it comes to getting down the field and hitting the returner. They are rookie Johnson Bademosi, rookie LJ Fort, and rookie Tashaun Gipson. Bademosi is the special teams star much like Josh Cribbs used to be when he entered the league. Former special teams ace Ray Ventrone has done nothing but cost the Browns with a few holding penalties. Grade: B
Returner(s): Fan favorite, Cribbs is having a nice year. Moving up the kickoff line last year has really taken Cribbs out of the game plan. Still, he is averaging roughly 30 yards a kick return and has come so close to taking one back. Cribbs has come very close to taking a couple of punts to the house as well. Rookie Travis Benjamin has only two returns and displays impressive speed. Benjamin is much like former Cleveland Browns favorite Gerald “Ice Cube” McNeil with his size and speed. It would be nice to see Cribbs take one or two for pay dirt before the season ends and add to his NFL record of eight kick returns for a touchdown. Grade: B+
It may take a few great special teams plays to string together a some wins for Browns team. Hopefully, those string of wins will start in the next seven games.
Ryan Ruiz – Cleveland Browns Writer
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