BEREA, Ohio — Training camp is always a little too early to tell how any one player will perform in the regular season, but it's when you can start getting a good feel. If the start of camp is any indication of how the season should go for rookie kicker Cade York, well Browns fans might be very happy on any given Sunday.
The fourth-round draft pick has been phenomenal so far in camp, missing just one kick from 58 yards out. On Friday, York nailed a 54-yarder, hitting the uprights but having the height that showed he'd probably have been good from 60+.
Special teams coordinator Mike Priefer watched the lone miss, and even though it was no good, York's drive still impressed him.
"It was a 58-yarder and he didn't even hit it well and I'm thinking, as soon as he hit it, it's not even close, then I watched it on tape and he darn near made it," Priefer said. "He's very talented, he's got a big-time leg, you guys have seen that everybody's concern was him kicking off prior to getting here because he didn't do it in college, there's no concerns, at least not on my end, I think he'll do a great job for us in giving us what we need in that department."
York's leg strength isn't something he brags about. He takes a humble, yet confident, approach.
“It all depends on conditions and what they need from me. So if they put me out there for it, I’m going to be confident. They're not going to put me out there for something I’m not comfortable with or it’s not in my range. So as far as you see me go back, that’s my range," York said. “Anything in my range I’m going out there thinking the same way – just three points on the board whether it’s a short field goal, long field goal, PAT. They put me out there for it, I’m going to have confidence in myself that I’m going to put in through.”
York has so far nailed his short attempts, been impressive on the longs, and has lived up to the challenge of the Mayday Drills.
"There are some situations where you’re running out there and getting set but really it’s just a normal field goal. There’s 20 seconds left but there’s also times where you get out there and there’s five or six seconds on the clock and you just kind of rush through it," York said. "In my warmup I kind of do – they call it Mayday field goals – so I’ll do some Mayday field goals steps that kind of get me in the groove of being able to do that when I am called on for it. I don’t really have too much trouble or struggle with that just because, honestly, you just don’t have time to think, and you kind of just take over so it’s not too bad. But there can be some tough situations that come up for that.”
For years, the Browns have been searching for a reliable kicker. The last true stability the team has seen at the position was Phil Dawson. Since then, field goals and extra points have caused fans to sit on the edge of their seat and hold their breath until it's over thanks to the uncertainty of the kicker.
York, who has spent some time getting tips and tricks from Dawson since being drafted by the Browns, could change the feeling when the special teams unit comes out on the field looking for points. York understands that pressure but won't let it weigh on him.
"It’s the first time I’ve ever been at practice and seen thousands of people out there. It’s a little bit of a new thing so it’s pretty cool to see that but also I can’t really get my motivation from that, even though it’s awesome. I love the fans but that could be gone just as quick if I had a bad day," York said.
York has been challenged in team drills throughout training camp but hasn't been back up to FirstEnergy Stadium to kick since the spring. Concerts and events at the stadium have limited the Browns' ability to send him up for work—but that part of preparation is quickly approaching as the team prepares for preseason games and joint practice sessions with the Philadelphia Eagles.
'We have not been able to get down there. In fact, we won't get down there until the Philly game. That would be the next time we're in the stadium. But we got him down there I think five or six times in the spring, which really helped him and he loved going down there. That helped he and the punters as well. And the snapper,” Priefer said. “I think it's the competition, it's Philly when they come here—he'll kick some field goals when they come here for practice."
The 21-year-old kicker is calm, cool, and collected in his approach to the ball. He never appears rattled or anxious. It's a good quality to have, and one he plans to work on maintaining as his pro debut inches closer.
"I’m excited about it. It’s not necessarily something where I’m anxious or scared about," York said. "The first [games] probably going to be the most nervous of all of them but I haven’t had any problems with nervous situations in the past so I’m hoping it all just goes smoothly.”
And his coach has confidence that it will because of the kind of person he says York is.
"I think any time you put a young player in a competitive situation, it's only going to help them going forward. And the great thing about Cade, he's very confident. A lot of kickers you have to kind of have to baby them a little bit and pamper them a little bit and don't hurt his psyche type thing—Cade's not like that at all," Prifer said. "He's only 21 years old, which is incredible. He's very mature. He understands his craft. He's very smart and he's very confident. I think that's going to help him here, especially in Cleveland.”
Camryn Justice is a reporter at News 5 Cleveland. Follow her on Twitter @camijustice.
Download the News 5 Cleveland app now for more stories from us, plus alerts on major news, the latest weather forecast, traffic information and much more. Download now on your Apple device here, and your Android device here.