BEREA — The Browns got a scare Monday when punter Dave Zastudil experienced soreness in his back. He was limited at practice Wednesday, but coach Romeo Crennel is confident he’ll play Sunday in the opener vs. the Steelers.
“I expect Dave to punt for us on Sunday,” he said.
Zastudil, a Bay High School graduate, signed as a free agent in 2006 and had a great year. He was sixth in the NFL with a career-high 38.4-yard net and had a career-high 44.0 gross. For a team reliant on field position, he’s crucial.
“Dave is an important guy,” Crennel said.
Due to the fickle nature of back injuries, the Browns worked out five punters Tuesday. Crennel said he watched them, rated them, then sent them home.
“You have to have a plan so you can cover yourself,” he said. “If it does linger somewhere down the road, I’ll already have an idea about who I might want to bring in.”
The players voted receiver Joe Jurevicius, center Hank Fraley, linebackers Andra Davis and Willie McGinest and kicker Phil Dawson captains. They will wear a “C” patch on their jerseys and Crennel said they would represent the team to him and the community.
“They are exemplary guys to be leaders and be out front for the team,” he said.
Jurevicius is in his second year with the Browns and 10th in the league.
“It’s an honor for me, especially being from Cleveland,” he said. “It’s something I never dreamt of, but now it’s on the resume and I’m pretty excited about the opportunity.”
The purpose of the new league-wide program is to support and recognize the importance of team leadership through the role of the captains.
“The big thing is to lead by example,” Jurevicius said. “Being a voice for our players and making sure when we go out there on the football field we do a good job of putting a product that we can be proud of out there.
“We’ve got talent here. It’s a matter of us doing things the right way all the time.”
Safety Sean Jones and tight end Steve Heiden are co-captains.
The injury news was good Wednesday.
Defensive end Orpheus Roye (knee), guard Eric Steinbach (knee), tackle Kevin Shaffer (concussion), Davis (ankle) and fullback Lawrence Vickers (hamstring) saw limited action in practice. All are hopeful they’ll be ready to go Sunday.
Shaffer seemed the least optimistic, mainly because he had yet to take a hit since suffering the concussion Aug. 25.
Backup defensive end Simon Fraser (abscess) practiced without restriction. Backup safety Mike Adams (groin) was added to the injury list and was limited in practice.
Romeo feels the heat
Crennel was asked his reaction to comments by general manager Phil Savage that he doesn’t enter the season on the hot seat.
“I didn’t hear his comments, but I’m a football coach in the NFL. Every football coach in the NFL is on the hot seat,” Crennel said. “You’ve got to win games. That’s the bottom line.”
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