BEREA — Dave Zastudil thinks he turned the corner with his strained back and will be able to punt Sunday against Cincinnati.
“I feel good,” he said Monday. “I think I’m over that hump. I’m trying to get stronger, start kicking and get ready for Sunday.
“When Cincinnati comes, I expect to be full-go. My body tells me that’s gonna happen.”
Zastudil said he thought he might begin kicking Wednesday. He said he gets four or five hours of treatment a day, including ice, stretching, abdominal work and massages. The strain is in his left side, near the oblique muscle.
Zastudil didn’t punt after Monday last week but thought he’d be able to play vs. the Steelers. When he tried to punt for the first time Saturday, the back wouldn’t let him.
“I was a little bit surprised,” he said. “But I knew I had 15 games to help the team, rather than hurt it again and be out three or four more games.”
Crennel defended his decision to wait until Saturday to add replacement Paul Ernster to the roster.
“Dave Zastudil is one of the best punters in the NFL. If he can punt for me, I wanted him to punt for me,” Crennel said. “I gave him every opportunity to try and get himself well.
“I didn’t just look in the telephone book and call that guy we got on Saturday. We worked him out on Tuesday. We had him in town on Friday night, so that if Dave told me on Saturday that he couldn’t go, then I had a guy in town and I didn’t have to fly him in from the West Coast. We had a plan.”
Ernster dropped the first snap, resulting in a 15-yard punt that led to the Steelers’ first touchdown. Some have speculated that a week of practice would’ve prevented the error.
“To put him on the team, now I have to get rid of somebody,” Crennel said. “In my mind, the move to make was to let Zastudil try to get well and if he can get well, let him punt. I do that with any other player on the team.”
When the Browns signed Ernster, they waived defensive back Jereme Perry.
More punt problems
The Browns were called for four penalties on the botched punt.
David McMillan and Jerome Harrison were called for holding, Antwan Peek for illegal formation and an unidentified player(s) for being downfield ineligibly.
Crennel said one of the holds was caused by the dropped snap and the other was a bad call. The ineligible man downfield was also likely caused by Ernster’s drop.
Crisis of confidence
The Browns expressed their belief that they can bounce back from the 34-7 loss to the Steelers.
“It was a big game, a rivalry game, a home opener,” Crennel said. “We wanted to do good in it, but we didn’t. I can’t go back and change it now.
“The thing that I have to do now is get my players, my coaches ready to play the next game, because there is a next game and it’s another division opponent, another home game. So I’ve got to do everything I can to get these guys up and ready to do that.”
Running back Jamal Lewis was asked about the “here we go again” feeling around town.
“That’s a loser’s mentality,” he said. “We can’t have that.
“Everybody on this team knows we didn’t play like the Cleveland Browns. We know we can play better.”
Crennel clarified why rookie Brady Quinn didn’t play.
As the third quarterback, if Quinn had played in the first three quarters, neither Charlie Frye nor Derek Anderson could’ve re-entered the game.
“I didn’t want to get into that situation,” Crennel said.
The third quarterback can play in the fourth quarter without any restrictions.
“When we got into the fourth quarter, it wasn’t a situation where I felt Brady should go into the game at that time.”
Contact Scott Petrak at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.