BEREA — Cade York's most recent miss was among the worst kicks of his still-young career.
The 39-yard field goal York missed during last Sunday's overtime win over Tampa Bay went badly left. Why that happened is something Browns special teams coordinator Mike Priefer has been trying to get to the bottom of since it occurred.
“Anytime you hit a ball like that, you are constantly adjusting," Priefer said Thursday. "It may not be the plant foot. It may be his follow through or what we call his chin discipline and make sure that his eyes stay down. There are a number of factors that could come into that. He just did not hit the ball well on that one."
That is in contrast to the kick York made earlier in the game. Kicking in the opposite direction, toward the west end zone, he nailed a 51-yard field goal to provide the Browns with a 10-7 lead.
Even after the missed field goal, York had one more huge kick to make. After David Njoku's one-handed touchdown catch with 32 seconds remaining in regulation, the rookie needed to hit the point-after try in order to send the game into overtime.
York was able to do so, extending his streak of made PATs to 18 in a row. However, his field goal percentage sits at 73.9% after his sixth miss in 23 tries this season.
"I was extremely proud of the way he reacted," Priefer said. "That is hard for a young kicker. It is hard for any kicker, especially a young kicker, after missing a field goal he knows he should have made. We went into overtime because of that kick, and ended up winning the game. He kicked off well. He hit three kicks well. He has to obviously eliminate those mistakes going forward, especially a 39-yarder, but he knows that and he is continually working on that."
Of York's six misses, three have been blocked. He had a 60-yarder blocked in Baltimore, a 53-yarder blocked the following week against Cincinnati, then a 34-yarder blocked against Buffalo two weeks ago.
Two other misses, including what could've been a potential game-winning 54-yarder, came in the Week 5 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers. That's the only game in which York had two missed kicks.
"I think really the ones he has had blocked have all been low kicks," Priefer said. "Our protection has been really good. The snap and hold has been good. We had one bad snap in Baltimore that (holder) Corey (Bojorquez) handled perfectly. We made that PAT, if you guys recall.
"Cade had a really good day (Wednesday). He is going to continue working his craft. We expect him to make really every kick because he is talented enough to do that. He just has to keep working and keep getting better.”
David Njoku out of Browns practice again with knee injury
Njoku missed his second consecutive practice on Thursday with a knee injury, the only Browns player not on the field. Cornerback Denzel Ward (ankle) and right tackle Jack Conklin worked off to the side with trainers during the open portion of the practice, although Conklin wasn't on the official injury report at all.
— Chris Easterling (@ceasterlingABJ) December 1, 2022
The official game status report won't come out until after the Browns finish practice early Friday afternoon. If Njoku can't play, it'll be the third games out of the last five he's missed due to an injury.
Njoku missed a Week 8 win over Cincinnati and a Week 10 loss at Miami due to a high ankle sprain sustained in a Week 7 loss at Baltimore.
The good news for the Browns was cornerbacks Greg Newsome and A.J. Green were both full participants in practice. Both are in the concussion protocol.
Browns defense improves 'gap security and integrity' against Tampa Bay
The first drive by the Buccaneers offense certainly had some Browns fans thinking it was the same old story. Not only did Tampa Bay march right down the field and score, they ran for 56 yards on five carries.
The rest of the game, which included two drives in overtime, the Buccaneers ran for only 40 yards on 15 carries. The key to that success was, in defensive coordinator Joe Woods' mind, what he always felt was the key to good run defense — fundamentals.
“I think we had a good plan," Woods said. "Throughout the week, we repped different type of runs we thought we were going to get. I felt the guys were confident. I think we really played hard. Our gap security and integrity was better, and I think we tackled well.”
The 96 net yards allowed Sunday was the fifth time the Browns held an opponent to less than 100 yards rushing. It was the lowest total by an opponent since Cincinnati ran for just 36 yards in Week 6.
The Browns are 3-2 in the five games in which they've given up less than 100 rushing yards. The two losses were in Week 2 to the New York Jets and Week 6 to New England.
“I feel like we are finally improving and emphasizing," middle Mike linebacker Sione Takitaki said. "I feel like we have been struggling with it the last few weeks and kind of been emphasizing that in practice and film. Even myself, just trying to get better in my run gap and my run fits.”
Hjalte Froholdt garners praise for performance against Buccaneers' Vita Vea
Hjalte Froholdt made his first career NFL regular-season start at center against Tampa Bay. Part of the challenge he faced was trying to block Buccaneers star nose tackle Vita Vea.
Vea was on a snap count of sorts due to a foot injury that had kept him out of two days' worth of practice. He played 48 out of a possible 79 defensive snaps, meaning he was still on the field for 61% of those snaps.
Froholdt himself missed two days of practice due to an illness. That didn't prevent him from being on the field and being productive on Sunday.
"He didn't even really get a week of practice, he wasn't feeling great, so for him to come out there and play well was pretty impressive," left guard Joel Bitonio said. "He works at it. A lot of the linemen we bring in here are very hardworking guys and Coach [Bill] Callahan, Coach [Scott] Peters do a good job of coaching them up and getting them extra reps when they can. He did a good job, and it's something we can definitely build on."
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On Twitter: @ceasterlingABJ
This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: Browns kicker Cade York working through recent issues